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Goff to launch book on NZ-Russia relations

Goff to launch book on NZ-Russia relations

Foreign Minister Phil Goff will this evening launch a book on New Zealand-Russia relations, as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Tony Wilson’s 'New Zealand and the Soviet Union, 1951-1991: A Brittle Relationship,' tracks changes in the relationship during the Cold War period.

"As the title of the book makes clear, relations between New Zealand and the then Soviet Union did not always run smoothly," Mr Goff said.

"World War Two laid a foundation of goodwill between our countries. However as the Cold War got under way the relationship quickly became more strained and distant, and Dr Wilson's book covers a significant and often colourful chapter.

"Cautious progress in the relationship ebbed and flowed. High points included the visits to the Soviet Union of Deputy Prime Minister Keith Holyoake in 1955 and Prime Minister Walter Nash in 1960, while relations reached a new low in 1979 when the Soviet Ambassador was declared persona non grata on the grounds of political activities incompatible with his diplomatic status. The Soviet Union responded by asking our Ambassador to leave Moscow.

”It is fair to say that we have moved into another chapter since 1991, as New Zealand and Russia both seek – now more than ever – to strengthen our political and other links circumscribed in earlier times.

“Today we have active and burgeoning trade ties complemented by growing political and cultural links. I visited Russia in 2001 and this year several high-level political visits have been organised.

The Speaker, Jonathan Hunt, led a parliamentary delegation to Moscow and St Petersburg recently while next month Jim Sutton will lead a trade mission there. Such visits will enhance bilateral relations and should provide a firm foundation on which to build our relationship further in years to come," Mr Goff said.

The book launch follows a NZ Institute of International Affairs seminar on Russia-New Zealand relations. Other anniversary activities have included an exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and President Putin, an exhibition at the Central Library mounted by the Russian Embassy, and a reception at the New Zealand Embassy in Moscow attended by Mr Hunt's delegation.

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