NAFTA: Round Six

Canada faces angry Americans in pivotal sixth round of NAFTA talks

The Canadian Press
January 21, 2018

Canada will be hosting an annoyed and angry United States as the sixth round of talks in the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation unfold over the coming week.

The Trump administration is making known its displeasure about Canada’s contributions to date and demanding progress over the marathon 10-day session.

Multiple sources aware of the U.S. administration’s views say the acrimony has a variety of causes, including Canada’s recent decision to file a sweeping complaint about U.S. trade practices at the World Trade Organization and its pursuit of a progressive trade agenda that includes Indigenous and labour provisions.

The rhetoric around its implacable rejection of the most controversial U.S. positions — raising continental content provisions on automobiles, scrapping a dispute resolution mechanism, limiting Canadian access to U.S. procurement, and instituting a five-year sunset clause — as well as bitterness over apparent leaks are all fuelling the U.S. animosity towards Canada, say sources.

Sources familiar with the Canadian position dismiss all that and say the tone at the negotiating table is professional and cordial, and that Canada is prepared to table counter-proposals in order to make progress.

They say Canadian negotiators are making constructive proposals to find common ground with the Americans on what some have called poison pills designed to kill the deal.

Indeed, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are showing signs they all want to see tangible progress in this round in order keep the negotiations on track, and discourage U.S. President Donald Trump from announcing his intent to withdraw from NAFTA.

It will be another week before Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, American counterpart Robert Lighthizer and Mexico’s Ildefonso Guajardo arrive in Montreal on Jan. 29 to close the extended round that gets underway earlier than planned on Sunday.

The way some see it, Lighthizer is in no hurry to come back to Canada.

“The feeling of ill will between Bob Lighthizer’s office and the Canadians — I don’t think you can underestimate it,” said Sarah Goldfeder, a former U.S. diplomat who now represents American clients in an Ottawa consultancy.

“He’s extremely frustrated with China and Canada,” added Goldfeder.

“Those are the two countries he thinks are being most unfair to the United States … Those are the ones taking up a good chunk of his time, and not in positive ways.”

Goldfeder noted that when Freeland went to Washington two weeks ago she met Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and members of Congress — but not Lighthizer.

When Guajardo visited later in the month, Lighthizer’s door was open to him, she said.

Colin Robertson, a retired diplomat with extensive experience in the U.S., said the body language between Lighthizer and Freeland is “terrible,” which is telling.

“He’s a bully and she gets under his skin,” said Robertson. “She and Guajardo are amigos. No one would say that about Freeland and Lighthizer.”

Canadian officials say Freeland and Lighthizer intend to meet this week while the two are in Davos, Switzerland for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Lighthizer isn’t willing to blow up NAFTA over the WTO challenge, but Canada should brace for some bilateral retaliation. Meanwhile, his office isn’t interested in the Canadian progressive trade agenda — entrenching Indigenous, gender and workers’ rights issues in the pact — because it has the whiff of Canada dictating social policy to the U.S., Goldfeder said.

Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a group normally at odds with the Republicans, was also critical of the Canadian posture.

“Canada is 100 per cent not engaged. Mexico started engaging in the last month or so,” said Wallach, who knows Lighthizer.

”Probably after the Montreal round, that increases the prospect that there could be a notice of withdrawal.”

Ottawa is defensive. The characterization of Canada as obstructionist is nonsense, and the product of strategic leaking of information, according to another official familiar with the content of talks, and who agreed to speak anonymously citing the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations.

The official said Canadian and American negotiators, as well as their Mexican counterparts, know each other well and are working methodically in the 30 separate negotiating rooms to make incremental progress.

The official pointed to Freeland’s Jan. 11 comments at the Liberal cabinet retreat in London, Ont. as evidence Canada is doing some “creative thinking” about how to deal with “unconventional” U.S. proposals.

The complaints about Canada’s progressive trade agenda are also a bit rich, the official said, because the real obstacles are more fundamental — the American poison pill proposals that wouldn’t fly in any trade negotiation.

In particular, the official cited the U.S. proposal to ditch the dispute resolution mechanism, saying Americans remember full well that former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney considered that idea a deal breaker during the original Canada-U.S. free trade talks in 1988.

Freeland told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that the progressive chapters on labour, gender, environment and Indigenous issues are not a problem. She said the Indigenous chapter would be discussed for the first time in Montreal.

Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde said it’s about time — he has pushed Freeland hard on the issue in recent months as part of her NAFTA advisory committee. Bellegarde told The Canadian Press he hopes the Americans and Mexicans support a chapter affirming Indigenous Peoples’ inclusion in the economy.

“Canada is supporting that,” he said.

“Tuesday will be the first formal response by U.S.A., Mexico to that new chapter, and so it’s very important.”

Today’s NAFTA talks are unusual because Canada is being told it needs to give up benefits or lose access to its fundamental trading partner, said Eric Miller, head of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group in Washington.

“Canada’s economic livelihood is on the line,” said Miller, a former Canadian official who worked on the auto bailout.

“One should expect Canada to be very focused on it, and to react very strongly.”

Mike Blanchfield and Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

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Ambassador Kelly Knight Craft

New U.S. envoy Kelly Craft faces challenges representing Donald Trump

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, October 23, 2017 10:34AM EDT

OTTAWA — Kelly Craft’s first acts of public diplomacy in Canada involved quoting John F. Kennedy — a Democrat — and acknowledging the country’s collective loss of Gord Downie.

As for her boss, U.S. President Donald Trump, and all his talk of tearing up the North American Free Trade Agreement, that was consigned to the back burner on her first day on the job in Canada.

Craft became Trump’s new U.S. ambassador to Canada, but offered a reference to Kennedy — the only deviation from her carefully scripted and delivered public remarks — after she formally took office Monday, becoming the first woman to ever occupy the role.

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“If I may echo the sentiments of President Kennedy, I truly feel amongst friends,” she said after joining several new diplomats who submitted their credentials to Gov. Gen. Julie Payette at Rideau Hall.

The Kennedy remark was not in the first version of her speaking notes, which were distributed by the U.S. embassy after her swearing-in.

Craft also gave a respectful nod to the lingering national grief over the death of Downie, acknowledging the passing last week of the beloved Tragically Hip frontman.

“It is clear that he deeply loved Canada; his poetic voice fell silent too soon,” she said.

“He once said that in recent years, it was hard for him to leave a song without a glimmer of hope. He viewed art, his music and his writings to help bring people closer in. I believe this is important business that we should all be about.”

As Trump’s ambassador, she is likely to find herself negotiating some tough issues with her Canadian hosts, including the NAFTA renegotiation and climate change.

She has also expressed support for the president’s trade agenda, which involves renegotiating or cancelling NAFTA.

She professed to be “a great listener” who will work to protect the economic relationship between the two countries.

“I am committed to continuing our collaboration to address security at the border,” she said. “But, I also want to make sure we continue to make it easier to engage in cross-border trade and travel.”

Colin Robertson, a retired Canadian diplomat with extensive experience in the U.S., said Craft was clearly trying to put her best foot forward.

“It’s in our interest to take her in and embrace her, and have her become, in a sense, our best advocate,” Robertson said.

With the latest round of NAFTA talks exposing a wide gulf between the U.S. and Canada, Robertson said Ottawa needs to cultivate Craft as a pipeline for Canada to the White House, said Robertson.

That’s especially important, he added, because relations appear strained between Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Freeland and Craft exchanged smiles and good wishes in the minister’s office on Monday afternoon with the envoy saying she looked forward to strengthening relations between the two countries.

Freeland told Craft that she knows “first hand” that she is extremely well respected in the U.S.

“Isn’t it great that we now have the first woman ambassador from the United States.”

Payette, who was presiding at her first ceremony to welcome new diplomats, also told Craft it was “a pleasure to welcome you as the first female ambassador of the United States to Canada.”

Roland Paris, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first foreign policy adviser, said Craft faces the tough task of representing a president who is unpopular in Canada.

“It won’t be easy to put a kinder and saner face on this administration,” said Paris.

“Among other things, she will be asked to explain why President Trump seems inclined to treat Canada, America’s closest ally and friend, as an economic adversary rather than as a partner.”

Craft got cracking on that job Monday, declaring: “It is a privilege to represent the United States in Canada and to be entrusted with the responsibility of working so closely with such an important friend, ally and neighbour.”

Craft is well-known sports fan, philanthropist and powerful donor to the Republican party, whose husband is Joe Craft, a wealthy Kentucky coal magnate.

She is also close with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the country’s most powerful lawmakers, who also hails from her state.

McConnell has occasionally bickered with the president, whose anti-establishment, trade-skeptical, more combative stance has put him at odds with the party’s establishment.

Paris said it will be difficult at times for Craft to represent her president to the Canadian government, “given the confused state of the Trump administration.”

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Trump and Trudeau

How Trudeau could play nice with Trump

If physical security and economic growth are priorities for Trump, Canada might be in a good shape, says expert

Mike Blanchfield and Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson looks on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes opening remarks before meeting with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Ottawa, Friday, January 20, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Boost defence spending, dial down the volume on battling climate change and find a bridge or energy project to build together.

That was the expert advice Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received Friday on how to get along with new U.S. President Donald Trump and make Canada relevant to his “America First” policy.

Derek Burney, a former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. under Brian Mulroney, said Trump’s protectionist, pro-American inauguration speech need not be cause for the Trudeau government light its “hair on fire” because there is plenty of policy space for Canada to plug into.

“If physical security and economic growth are his priorities, we’re in good shape to be constructively co-operative with him on both,” said Burney.

“We have common infrastructure that needs modernizing along our border.” He suggested joining forces to modernize the Canada-U.S. electricity grid, or jointly building the proposed Gordie Howe Bridge between southern Ontario and Michigan.

Boosting defence spending should also be seriously considered, said Burney because the U.S. is spending a disproportionate amount in NATO — something Trump has complained loudly about this past week.

Roland Paris, Trudeau’s former foreign policy adviser, said increasing defence spending makes sense regardless of Trump, because it’s a necessary “insurance policy” in an unstable world beset with security threats.

“The ‘America First’ model that Trump has articulated poses a signal challenge to all of America’s partners, whether it’s Europe partners, other members of NATO, Mexico, Canada.”

RELATED: And the biggest economic uncertainty for Canada under Trump is…

Canada doesn’t need to be scared of the Trump administration as long as it creates “a relationship where they see us as partners, not competition,” said Georganne Burke, an American-born Trump supporter who is a vice-president of a Toronto public relations firm.

But Trudeau and his ministers have to hold firm to their constructive approach towards wanting to find common ground with Trump and “stay away from the snark” in its messaging, she said.

That means toning down the rhetoric on the threats posed by climate change because most U.S. conservatives were angered by Barack Obama’s characterization of it as the greatest threat to the world, she said. “They will be willing to talk about environmental issues but they’re going to talk about it in a more conservative fashion.”

Colin Robertson, a veteran ex-diplomat with extensive U.S. experience, said it is crucial for Trudeau and his team to continue pushing the fact that millions of American jobs depend on trade with Canada and that 35 U.S. states count Canada as their top customer.

Robertson said Trudeau took the right approach when said he looked forward to working not only with Trump’s administration but with Congress, state and local governments “to restore prosperity to the middle class on both sides of the border and to create a safer and more peaceful world.”

Trudeau reminded Trump of Canada’s historically close ties with the U.S. in his congratulatory statement issued minutes after the billionaire businessman was sworn in as the 45th president.

“This enduring partnership is essential to our shared prosperity and security,” Trudeau said, citing “robust” trade, investment and economic ties that have long linked the two countries, while supporting millions of jobs.

“We both want to build economies where the middle class, and those working hard to join it, have a fair shot at success.”

Trudeau also spoke to the provincial and territorial premiers about the new administration.

His office said he and the premiers stressed the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship and discussed the opportunities presented by the transition in Washington.

RELATED: How the Trudeau government is bracing for Trump

Earlier Friday, the prime minister urged the mayors of Canada’s biggest cities to keep close ties with their American counterparts to maintain an open border with the U.S. Those relationships will be vital to ensuring open dialogue and trade between the two countries, he said.

The mayors say their relationships with municipal leaders on the other side could serve as a counterbalance to any protectionist movements initiated by the Trump administration, given the trade ties between Canada and American cities and states.

“The United States is not just one president,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who pointed to an upcoming meeting he has with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the issue of climate change.

“It’s a complex system and we’ll do what we have to do. We are already working really hard with different colleagues from south of the border.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he hopes Canada remains open to immigrants from all over the world should Trump follow through on his protectionist threats.

“Let’s ensure that we are open to the world, to trade, to brains to money to ideas and make sure that we seize on this opportunity.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said taking a seat in the Oval Office could change Trump.

“You realize you have to represent and lead everyone. So I’m hopeful that President Trump will understand that with that office.”

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Assessment of John Baird: Universtiy of Ottawa panel and Canadian Press

CPAC John Baird’s Legacy Participants assess John Baird’s tenure as foreign affairs minister and discuss whether or not his achievements have positioned Canada to better pursue its foreign policy objectives. The panellists are Peter Jones and David Petrasek (University of Ottawa) and former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson. John Baird served as foreign affairs minister since in 2011. In February 2015, Baird announced he was stepping down from his position as foreign minister and would not run in the next general election. (February 10, 2015)

Diplomatica: Panel gives John Baird’s foreign affairs performance mixed reviews

Published on: February 17, 2015

It used to be, back when David Petrasek was working in human rights and conflict resolution for the United Nations in Geneva, that Canadians would explain Americans to Europeans.

“Now, I think Americans have been explaining Canadians. The Americans understand that the roles have changed.”

Petrasek, who is now an associate professor in the graduate school of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa, recently joined colleague Peter Jones and retired diplomat Colin Robertson on a University of Ottawa panel discussing former foreign minister John Baird’s legacy.

Baird’s “values-driven” agenda was a focus of the discussion.

“The idea that Mr. Baird can say he ran a values-driven foreign policy is problematic in that he did so selectively,” Jones said. “If one is going to make values the basis of one’s approach, one has to implement them across the board or at least be seen as trying to.”

He said Baird’s “unequivocal support for Israel’s right wing” played well with the Conservative voter base back here in Canada, “but I’m not sure (it) was playing well in terms of Canada’s broader interests, nor in Canada’s role in the region.”

He even went so far as to say that “to the extent that these terrorists really do want to attack Canada, I think his rhetoric probably moved us up a notch or two on (the terrorists’) list.” He also noted that Canada’s “uncritical support of Israel”  was not appreciated in Washington.

And, he said, Baird “openly castigated, if not dismissed,” Canada’s traditional role of trying to foster dialogue between the parties in the region.

Petrasek centred his comments on Baird’s human rights record.

“After four years, he left Canada in a weaker position on human rights,” Petrasek said. Proponents argue it was principled policy in defence of human rights, that he effectively advanced new initiatives.

But Petrasek said that as a principled human rights defender, you speak out, regardless of the victim and perpetrator. He noted that Baird never spoke publicly about the records of certain Middle Eastern countries.

“He might have done so in private, but his public statements emphasized security and stability, which played to the anti-democratic nature of those regimes,” he said.

Petrasek said he couldn’t find any public declaration that Israeli settlements are illegal, which is official Canadian policy. “Those settlements are the source of so many human rights abuses. He never spoke clearly on that.”

Baird also established the office of religious freedom, took a stand against child marriages and forced marriages and spoke out on LGBT rights.

“These were new initiatives and good initiatives, but they were pursued in a partisan manner,” Petrasek said.

Finally, he said, Baird was hostile towards the UN. “If you want to advance issues like child marriage, you  have to work with these multilateral institutions that are far from perfect. But the point is that you sit down and try to make them better, to reform them. He completely ignored them.”

Robertson was more complimentary, giving Baird credit for his dignity agenda and lauding his commitment to Israel as “genuine and heartfelt.” He had two virtues of any good foreign minister, Robertson said: “He had a strong constitution and he loved to travel.” Baird is said to have visited more than 90 countries.

“On the UN, he came with all the prejudices shared by Stephen Harper, but over time, I think he began to see (its) value.”

Baird says Canada’s international stature is growing—is that accurate?

Baird says Canada more respected internationallyJohn Baird speaks in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. Baird surprised many with his sudden resignation last week from federal politics, which also called an abrupt halt to nearly four years as Canada’s top diplomat. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, February 13, 2015 8:28AM EST

OTTAWA — “I have seen the stature of our country grow, in the eyes of the world … Today, Canada stands tall in the world.” — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in his resignation speech in the House of Commons, Feb. 3.

John Baird surprised many with his sudden resignation last week from federal politics, which also called an abrupt halt to nearly four years as Canada’s top diplomat.

As he was saying his goodbyes in the House of Commons, Baird called the country more respected internationally, citing Canada’s fight against terrorism, standing “side by side” with Israel, having “strong partners” in the Arab world and opposing the “militaristic expansionism” of Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Ukraine — all while promoting trade, especially in Asia.

But the sight of Baird’s motorcade being pelted with eggs and shoes last month in the West Bank capital of Ramallah reminded many of the government’s controversial pro-Israeli policy, which has sparked heated criticism.

And what about Canada’s historic loss of a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2010 — a first in six decades — to tiny, economically battered Portugal?

Does Canada actually have more stature than it did before 2011, when Baird arrived at Foreign Affairs? Or since 2006, when the Conservatives came to power?

Spoiler alert: The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney” (complete methodology below).

Baird’s claim that Canada’s international stature has grown contains “some baloney.” Here’s why:

The facts

Canada has long scored well in an annual poll of global attitudes by the British Broadcasting Corporation. In 2014, the BBC World Service and GlobeScan/Pipa poll asked 24,500 international respondents whether they viewed 17 specific countries positively or negatively. Canada came second, behind Germany. Iran was last.

The United Nations Human Development Index is another indicator that many rely on to measure one country’s standing with another. The HDI combines data on health, education and gross national income to come up with a ranking among more than 190 countries that the UN says “can stimulate debate about government policy priorities.”

In the 1990s, Canada was No. 1 for several years. Then Norway came along. Canada’s been slipping ever since, dropping to 11th in 2013, compared to sixth in 2006.

International spending also provides a barometer of global standing. Canada’s defence spending is down to about one per cent of gross domestic product from 1.3 per cent in 2009, while foreign aid has gone from 0.34 of GDP in 2010-11 to 0.27 per cent in 2013-14, says the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which measures growth and progress among 34 leading countries.

What the experts say

By any measure, Canada’s standing in the world has fallen, said retired UN ambassador Paul Heinbecker, a former adviser to then-prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Heinbecker cited a “truculent” attitude towards the UN, on which the Harper government has repeatedly turned its back. Canada is the only NATO country not to sign the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty and the only country in world to withdraw from its Convention to Combat Desertification.

“Mr. Baird’s assessment reads like George Orwell meets Lewis Carroll; ‘1984’ as seen by Humpty Dumpty,” said Heinbecker, now a senior fellow at the Centre for Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Ont.

On the other hand, Fen Hampson, head of CIGI’s global security program, cited the BBC’s annual country survey as a good indicator of global attitudes towards any country, including Canada.

“You can pick any elite diplomat you want to make a case for or against the government,” said Hampson.

“If you want real metrics, that’s one of the few real metrics out there. When it comes to popularity, how we’re seen in the world, as a country in the world, in terms of our reputation, it’s still high.”

Retired diplomat Colin Robertson, the vice president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said Canada may not “have the same weight in the United Nations … because we haven’t put the same weight in the United Nations under this government.”

But the BBC poll is a strong indicator that Canada’s “brand” has not suffered under the Conservatives, Robertson said, contradicting anecdotal feelings of slippage that might be harboured by some.

Canada has fallen on a number of fronts, said David Biette, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

Biette cited the fact that it has not emerged as the “energy superpower” Stephen Harper predicted in 2006, its “blind support” of Israel and its “botched” attempt to secure a coveted seat on the UN Security Council in 2010.

That said, Canada’s international reputation might be intact simply because a lot people don’t pay attention to the country from abroad, he added.

“Has Canada changed? I can say (yes),” Biette said. “But (ask) an informed public, ‘Has Canada changed?’ I don’t know.”

The verdict

Taking all of that into account, Baird’s claim that Canada’s international stature has grown and that the country stands tall in the world contains “some baloney.”

Methodology

The Baloney Meter is a project of The Canadian Press that examines the level of accuracy in statements made by politicians. Each claim is researched and assigned a rating based on the following scale:

No baloney – the statement is completely accurate

A little baloney – the statement is mostly accurate but more information is required

Some baloney – the statement is partly accurate but important details are missing

A lot of baloney – the statement is mostly inaccurate but contains elements of truth

Full of baloney – the statement is completely inaccurate

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/baird-says-canada-s-international-stature-is-growing-is-that-accurate-1.2234635#ixzz3SEnh7BZQ

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On retirement of Russian Ambassador Georgiy Mamedov

Russian envoy retiring from Canada post after 11 years

Georgiy Mamedov in TorontoGeorgiy Mamedov in Toronto on Tuesday April 22 , 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Chris Young)

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Published Thursday, June 12, 2014 6:59AM EDT

OTTAWA — Georgiy Mamedov’s diplomatic career was forged in some of the fiercest political fires of the Cold War.

As he prepares to depart Canada as the so-called dean of the country’s diplomatic corps after 11 years, it is as if he’s being re-baptized in those old Cold War flames all over again.

The sharp-accented, sardonic and often provocative Russian ambassador to Canada has become the target of Canada’s political and public disapproval of President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing unrest in eastern Ukraine caused by pro-Russian gunmen.

He’s been called on the carpet behind closed doors in recent months by top Foreign Affairs officials, bearing Canada’s official outrage on behalf of the Putin government. He was even heckled in public — some called him a liar — at a recent business luncheon in Toronto.

For some who say they know him better than others, none of this has knocked the 66-year-old Mamedov off his axis.

“Behind the Falstaffian exterior is a canny and shrewd diplomat who knows how to play the game. (More) importantly, he likes to play the game and he is very good at it,” said retired Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

Mamedov is expected to depart his post at the end of June after 11 years at the Russian embassy in Ottawa, easily twice the length of most diplomatic postings. Unlike most other governments, Russians favour long postings.

In Mamedov’s case, it made even more sense because is widely acknowledged as one of his country’s foremost experts on North American affairs.

Over the years, Mamedov has worked hard to build economic ties between Canada and Russia, in between finessing various flashpoints that periodically raised the ire of the current Harper government.

Those include a Russian submarine planting a flag on the North Pole seabed, accusations of Russian bombers flying too close to Canadian airspace and disgraced Canadian navy sub-lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle, convicted of stealing and selling military secrets to Moscow.

As of late, Mamedov has become the Canadian face of a “regime” that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has personally branded a threat to world peace.

Paul Heinbecker, Canada’s former ambassador to the United Nations, recalled how Mamedov bore the brunt of some harsh criticism from his own government while the West was negotiating the end of the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

NATO had bombed the former Yugoslavia for 78 days, driving Russia’s ally in Serbia out of the predominantly ethnically Albanian province of Kosovo.

“He was constructive and resourceful and tough and faced down a lot of opposition inside Moscow to deliver the kind of deal Yeltsin could live with,” Heinbecker recalled. “I actually saw some of it.”

Heinbecker said he came to hold Mamedov in high regard for rising above that pressure.

“There were a lot of people in Moscow who thought this was abandoning the Serbs and letting NATO run wild. He was able to surmount that.”

Four years later, Mamedov began his diplomatic run in Ottawa.

“Mamedov played on various levels: Canada-Russia political, economic, social — people to people relations — as well as intellectual,” said Robertson.

“He also observed for Russian interests in the wider world especially reporting from Canada on U.S. affairs. We are a very good listening post.”

The son of a career diplomat, Mamedov began his own career more than 40 years ago, a doctorate in history on his resume, with a short one-year posting at the Soviet Union’s embassy in Washington. He returned in the 1970s for four more years that spanned his country’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

When the Soviet Union collapsed a decade later, Mamedov was at the director of his foreign ministry’s desk for Canada and the United States.

For the 12 years prior to his 2003 appointment to Ottawa, he served as Russia’s deputy ministry of foreign affairs.

“He came with deep knowledge of the Kremlin,” Robertson said, “after having cut his teeth on the most critical issues of the Cold War: nuclear non-proliferation, negotiating removal of weapons from Ukraine, and U.S.-Soviet relations.”

Mamedov’s fingerprints are on the Budapest Memorandums of 1994, which resonate today with the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

The agreement was between Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the U.S. It called for the removal of Ukraine’s nuclear stockpile in return for Russian recognition of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty — something the West now accuses Putin of leaving in tatters.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/russian-envoy-retiring-from-canada-post-after-11-years-1.1864786#ixzz34Rgu5ggD

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