Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions , Moscow, June 15, 2016

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers
to media questions during Government Hour at the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Moscow, June 15, 2016

Mr Naryshkin,
First of all, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to speak once again as part of Government Hour in the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
We at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appreciate your attention to our work and our efforts to implement Russia’s foreign policy course that has been approved by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. I would like to emphasise that close interaction between the Foreign Ministry and parliament, the relevant committees of the State Duma and the Federation Council, offers an opportunity not just to coordinate our approaches to the key issues on the international agenda, but also to make the joint efforts of the executive and legislative branches of power maximally effective for strengthening Russia’s position in global affairs.
You are aware, of course, of our assessments of the international situation that have been recently voiced several times by President Putin, including during his recent visits to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Greece and also at the ASEAN-Russia summit in Sochi. President Putin spoke frankly, stressing the importance of curbing the growth of the global conflict potential and reaffirming Russia’s willingness to work together with all other countries on a modern non-bloc system of international security.
International relations have reached a turning point in their development, marked by the rise of a new polycentric architecture. It is an objective trend that reflects the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world, the rise and strengthening of new centres of power and influence and the natural desire of nations to freely determine their future. At the same time, global competition is growing stronger and its results will largely determine the contours of the future world order.
Against the backdrop of growing terrorist threats, regional conflicts and persisting economic instability, we see our Western partners, led by the United States, redoubling their efforts to achieve global domination.
The recent developments have shown the illusory nature of these plans. It is obvious that no state, not even the world’s most powerful state, and no group of countries, can hope to be able to deal with the numerous modern problems alone.
What we need in this situation is collective diplomatic efforts, based on true equality among the main international actors, in the interests of finding the best answers to common threats and challenges.
This foreign policy philosophy and practice is being implemented in Russia, which is protecting its national interests in a situation where the United States and its allies are trying to create a “deterrence front” against Russia based on Cold War precepts. But they can no longer refuse to admit the importance of working together with Russia and the relevance of Russia’s stance on current issues.
When speaking at the UN in September of last year, President Putin proposed creating a broad counterterrorism front under the UN auspices and based on the solid foundation of international law.
Putting this initiative into practice, our Aerospace Forces, which were deployed in Syria at the request of the Syrian Government, fought jointly with the Syrian army and militiamen to disrupt the extremists’ plans of creating a bridgehead in that strategic region of the Middle East.
It took our partners time to see the seriousness of the challenge from ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other similar organizations, as well as the importance of coordinating efforts in the fight against them. Eventually, practical cooperation was established. The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) has been created with Russia and the United States as co-chairs, and the UN Security Council has adopted decisions approving a comprehensive plan that provides for a ceasefire, humanitarian access to civilians in the besieged regions and a political process without any preconditions or foreign interference.
Russia will continue to pursue an ambitious, independent and responsible policy based on the priority of international law, collective solutions to international problems with the central role of the UN, and recognition of nations’ right to self-determination.
We have been working at the UN, BRICS, the SCO, the G20 and other multilateral platforms to advocate a unifying agenda and balanced global politics. We are always open for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries and integration associations that desire this too.
But make no mistake: We will defend the security of our country and people in any conditions.

More attempts are being made to put pressure on us, to encourage anti-Russian campaigns in a bid to force us to abandon our views on the world order, views that are based on our principles and values. We see attempts to tighten discipline in the trans-Atlantic region at our expense and simultaneously to undermine the positions of Russia as a rival on the energy and arms markets.
We will not be involved in confrontation with the United States, NATO or the EU. It is obvious that confrontation and zero sum geopolitical games are hindering the world’s movement towards stability and development and are generating crises such as the one in Ukraine. We hope the West has seen the dangers of pandering to radical nationalists and will put pressure on Kiev to implement the Minsk Agreements of February 12, 2015 through direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk. We are ready to work together towards this goal and to help create favourable conditions for dealing with the challenges that are plaguing Ukraine.
Conflicts in the CIS, just as in any other region, may be settled solely by peaceful means, that is, political, diplomatic and other non-military methods. This applies to the crisis in Ukraine and the problems of Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh. The main point is to respect the agreements achieved by the sides involved and to prevent them from being revised.
We are convinced that it would be much easier to settle all these crises if systemic defects were overcome in pan-European cooperation, and if the persisting dividing lines were eliminated. We are urging all countries to work toward the creation of a common economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which will rest on equal and indivisible security. Harmonization of European and Eurasian integration processes could be an important step in this direction.
Despite certain complications, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has established itself as a modern international organization. The decisions adopted at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting in Astana on May 31 set specific development goals for its member states and are aimed at enhancing their competitiveness. We are also focusing our efforts on consolidating the Union State of Russia and Belarus, ensuring the efficient operation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and improving the performance of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Integration processes within the CIS are not stewing in their own juice. Together with our partners, we are striving to expand opportunities for mutually beneficial projects with other countries. An agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the EAEU and China is being drafted, as is an agreement in principle on a search for ways of integrating the development plans of the EAEU and the Silk Road Economic Belt, and talks are underway on establishing free trade areas with many states from the most diverse parts of the world.                    
New horizons are opening up by the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the start of consultations between the member states of the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN on forming a comprehensive Eurasian economic partnership in the future. This idea raised much interest at the ASEAN-Russia summit in Sochi on May 19-20.
In our further efforts towards these goals we will rely on our strategic partnership with China, India and Vietnam, and we will expand our cooperation with other countries of the Asia-Pacific Region (APR), in part to resolve our ambitious plans to develop Siberia and the Russian Far East.
The SCO is becoming a major guarantor of regional stability and security. Its potential will become even stronger when India and Pakistan join it as full-fledged members. 
The consolidation of BRICS is also gaining momentum. Its members are establishing permanent mechanisms of cooperation and are working out common approaches to the democratisation of international relations.
Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to thank the deputies for approving the draft federal law On the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation (in a foreign state) and the Permanent Representative (permanent observer) of the Russian Federation at an international organization (in a foreign state). To my knowledge, the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly has already expressed its support for it. We appreciate your efforts to support our diplomatic service. No doubt, this facilitates efficient implementation of Russia’s foreign policy.
In the next couple of days, an election campaign will be launched for the September 18 elections to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the seventh convocation. The Russian Foreign Ministry is paying priority attention to ensuring smooth preparations and well-organized elections abroad and is doing everything it can to ensure their success. This is yet another area in which we have been very closely cooperating with the deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly for more than a year.
Thank you for your attention. We received written questions from different parliamentary parties before the current meeting, and have responded to them in writing. But I am ready to answer any other questions you may have.

To be continued...

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