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Sergey Lavrov’s at a joint news conference with the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Iran, August 8, 2016



8 August 201622:38
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Iran, Elmar Mammadyarov and Mohammad Javad Zarif, respectively, in Baku, August 8, 2016
1408-08-08-2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am speaking just after the first meeting of the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. First, I would like to express once again my gratitude to our Azerbaijani friends, on behalf of the Russian delegation, for the invitation and for this initiative, for their hospitality and excellent organisation of our work.
As you know, our leaders have signed the joint declaration that we’ve been working on for the past weeks. Ministers’ meetings took place yesterday and continued today in bilateral and trilateral formats. We see much significance in the declaration that was signed after our productive negotiations and an exchange of views on long-term cooperation prospects, in the way it reflects the entire range of possibilities that are opening up through this new format: from joint work on policy coordination and security cooperation, to discussion of specific economic projects with a focus on transport and energy.
Amid the unprecedented surge of international terrorism, including the criminal activities of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, this declaration focuses on the need for cooperation on the antiterrorist track. Russia is convinced that, whatever gimmickry the terrorists use, such as Jabhat al-Nusra changing its name to try to avoid retaliation, the international community must remain steadfast in the fight against terrorism, and the UN Security Council should closely monitor the terrorists’ attempts to get away, and promptly update the lists of terrorist groups.
Our leaders have agreed to establish a tripartite mechanism, which would include varied interaction formats: summits, foreign ministers’ meetings and consultations between the heads of relevant agencies.
The presidents have issued detailed instructions to their transport ministers and railway carriers to work out plans for the development of the North-South transport corridor on the western coast of the Caspian Sea. The energy ministers will be drafting proposals on joint projects in the extraction, transport, processing and marketing of hydrocarbons and refined products, as well as electricity.
A detailed discussion of the situation around the Caspian Sea took place at the meeting, also with due account of the results of the July meeting of the foreign ministers of five Caspian littoral states in Astana. The leaders emphasised the importance of the early completion of the negotiations on the draft convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. Appropriate instructions were given to the ministries of foreign affairs. The negotiations will continue, with more than one round held this year. It was also decided to step up preparations for the Fifth Caspian Summit that will take place in Kazakhstan.
According to the Russian delegation, the talks, which marked the launch of a promising new format, have been an important contribution to the strengthening of ties between the three countries on an equal and mutually beneficial basis, for the benefit of our peoples. They will certainly have a positive impact on many regional processes. We all are interested in strengthening stability and creating conditions for the mutually beneficial cooperation of all the states located here.
We have gratefully accepted the proposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran to host the next summit and the meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
Question: Mr Lavrov, taking into account the strategic relations between Iran and Russia, in what ways could this meeting contribute to strengthening these relations?
Sergey Lavrov: This was the main item on our agenda. We discussed the significance of this meeting in terms of efforts to further strengthen ties between the countries present here in bilateral, as well as in a trilateral context.
Today, President of Russia Vladimir Putin took part in a bilateral meeting with the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, who was later joined by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, for a trilateral summit. At the bilateral talks, the leaders of Russia and Iran reviewed the whole spectrum of our relations, outlined specific objectives and agreed that bilateral trade and economic ties are developing rapidly despite challenging conditions. In the first five months of 2016, trade between Russia and Iran surged by 70 per cent. This is a very serious indicator. We have some promising investment projects that will also contribute to developing our relations.
We are also promoting humanitarian, cultural and political ties, as well as working together on the specific issue of fighting terrorism, including in Syria, where we operate at the request of the Syrian authorities. These are very important issues. We have a similar strategic partnership with our friends in Azerbaijan, who in turn have close ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Today we have seen the extent to which our approaches to a number of goals related to economic development, security, humanitarian cooperation and cooperation within the region and in international organisations coincide.
I believe that all this enhances the relations between Russia and Iran, and I am confident that it will pave the way for new specific initiatives in developing relations between Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as between Azerbaijan and Iran.
Question: Alarming reports are coming from Donbass on shelling and destruction. What efforts is the Normandy Four taking right now to mitigate the situation?
Sergey Lavrov: The current developments in Donbass are a matter of grave concern for us. Shelling incidents are becoming increasingly frequent, especially those targeting civilians: hospitals, schools and kindergartens are being destroyed. All this is being reported by the OSCE observers. I’m not even talking about the attempted assassination of the Lugansk People’s Republic head Igor Plotnitsky. We are concerned about the growing number of Ukrainian army units near the line of contact, as well as the fact that more and more weapons are missing from the warehouses where they were stored. These developments have also been recorded by OSCE observers. All this is taking place against the backdrop of very bellicose rhetoric from Kiev, including some of its officials, who go so far as to threaten to do whatever it takes to resolve the problems that exist in Donbass.
There is no doubt that all this runs counter to the outcome of the Normandy Four’s efforts, I mean the Minsk Agreements. It also runs counter to the Paris Agreements of October 2015. As you may remember, at this meeting in Paris the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine agreed on a series of specific steps, largely compromising, but practical steps that were to be taken with a view to implementing primarily the political provisions of the Minsk Agreements.
This goes to say that the current surge in aggressive rhetoric and military activity certainly contradicts the letter and spirit of the Paris and Minsk Agreements with the latter in quite a deplorable state even without it in terms of implementation by Ukraine of its commitments.
We maintain regular contact with the Normandy Four, including at the highest level. A number of telephone conferences have taken place. We are bringing these questions to the attention of our partners, Germany, France and Ukraine, and rely on existing communication channels with the Kiev authorities, among other things. Our Ukrainian partners have recently proposed holding another Normandy Four summit on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty summit in Hangzhou, China. We believe that the four countries that met in Normandy should assume responsibility for implementing the decisions that were adopted in this format. If our German and French partners, as well as China, as the host of the G20 summit, agree to hold this meeting in the Normandy Format, Russia will be ready for it. We believe this meeting to be timely, taking the above into account.










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