19 June 2018
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

30.11.2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Libero, Italy

Question: What subjects do you intend to broach in you remarks at the Mediterranean forum?

Sergey Lavrov: I am glad to have an opportunity to once again attend the third international conference, Rome Mediterranean Dialogues 2017, sponsored by Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies.

Owing to the organisers’ energetic efforts, the forum has asserted itself, within a brief period of time, as an authoritative and much-needed expert venue for discussing current international problems relating to the Mediterranean region.

Those taking part at the two previous meetings discussed Mediterranean security, settlement of crises and conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and counteraction to international terrorism. The discussions were interesting, substantial, and aimed at looking for effective solutions to a wide range of subjects.

Today, this region continues to face numerous challenges. What I mean in particular is the persisting political and socio-economic instability in a number of its countries, the terrorist threat, radicalisation of public moods, and an uncontrolled growth of migration flows.

I am planning to focus on these problems as well as on the Russian approaches to dealing with them. I intend to emphasise that Russia is prepared for constructive interaction with all responsible players in the interests of ensuring peace, stability and security in the Mediterranean. It is only by pooling our efforts that we will be able to achieve this.

Question: In his recent interview with Libero, the Russian Ambassador in Italy, Sergey Razov, stressed that the anti-Russian sanctions were inflicting great damage on the economies of Italy and other members of the EU. When, in your opinion, will Brussels abolish these suicidal restrictions?

Sergey Lavrov: In fact, the sanctions are damaging to Russia’s cooperation with the EU and its member countries. Incidentally, Italian Ambassador to Russia Cesare Maria Ragaglini, as far as I know, called attention to this very fact in his interview with Corriere della Sera in July of this year.

Today, it is clear that the sanctions, which the Brussels bureaucrats have built up on instructions from Washington, have boomeranged against the European national producers. They have lost a number of their positions on the Russian market and continue sustaining considerable losses. America, for its part, has suffered no damage, because our trade with them is miniscule. Thus, the US establishment wants to address its anti-Russian agenda at the expense of the Europeans and use Europeans to do their dirty work. I suggest that you think about this. Not so very long ago, I had a chance to talk to representatives of European companies working in my country. Their stance is unequivocal: the business community does not want restrictions and political interference in business life.

As for the fate of sanctions, this question, to be sure, should be addressed to Brussels, not Moscow. We hope that the EU structures will prove strong enough to renounce policy-making with regard to Russia based on the “least common denominator” principle and stop taking their cues from a small, if extremely aggressive, group of  Russia haters inside the EU. For our part, we will promote cooperation at a pace for which our European partners are ready.    

Question: Could the West defeat ISIS without the assistance of Russia’s Aerospace Forces?

Sergey Lavrov: From your question, Western readers might think that the West is fighting ISIS and that Russia is helping the West. The situation is different. The US-led coalition against ISIS was established without a UN Security Council mandate and is not coordinating its actions with Syria’s government, which is a violation of international law.

As for the effectiveness of its actions, it became clear by mid-2015 that it was unable to attain its proclaimed goals. ISIS was increasing the area of its caliphate, was creating pseudo-state organisations and was printing its own currency. ISIS controlled nearly 70 per cent of Syrian territory. Despite the coalition headquarters’ victorious statements, ISIS continued to spread its misanthropic ideology and to stage bloody intimidation attacks in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as beyond it.

Realising that the strengthening of ISIS and similar terrorist groups can have dramatic consequences, Russia decided to help the Syrian government fight the proliferation of the various types of terrorism regardless of their ethnic or religious nature.

Here are some facts to show what has been done to rout ISIS. Over the two years since the Russian Aerospace Forces launched operations in Syria, they have eliminated over 900 terrorist training camps, over 660 munitions plants and 1,500 items of military equipment. Some 1,000 cities and towns have been liberated.

At this point, over 95 per cent of Syrian territory has been cleansed of ISIS. Peaceful life is returning to the country: 1.12 million refugees and internally displaced persons have returned to their homes, including 660,000 in 2017. I would like to point out that our operation in Syria proceeded in strict compliance with international law.

In 2015, President Putin proposed creating a broad UN-led international coalition. Regrettably, our calls for joining forces against ISIS were disregarded. Only recently have our Western partners seen that collective efforts are needed to fight terrorism. A vital political event in this context was the joint statement on Syria the presidents of Russia and the United State made on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Da Nang on November 11. It confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria. Possibilities for developing interaction in the fight against terrorism were also discussed in a telephone conversation between President Putin and President Trump on November 21.

Question: Does Russia still hope to improve relations with the United States despite Russiagate and the Trump administration’s unfriendly actions?

Sergey Lavrov: The situation in our bilateral relations remains very complicated. The US establishment is sinking in Russia-hating sentiments, which have been provoked by some political forces that refuse to accept the results of last year’s presidential election in the United States.

It is difficult to say what consequences the current difficult stage [in bilateral relations] will have. The divergence of opinions in the United States has reached its highest level in decades, spreading from the political and economic spheres to the entire range of social issues.

It appears that the US administration has not yet developed a clear Russia policy. Just as during his election campaign, President Trump continues to say that he would like to normalise relations and to develop cooperation with Russia on current international issues. He has said this more than once during telephone conversations and meetings with President Putin, including at the APEC summit in Da Nang.

In practice, however, the actions of President Trump’s team could be described as inertial; they do not differ much from Obama’s policy. Moreover, acting at the prompting of the anti-Russia lobby, the administration has taken many unfriendly steps in many areas, such as the expansion of unilateral restrictions, the implementation of global BMD plans, the build-up of US and NATO military presence at Russian borders, as well as attempts to discredit Russia’s foreign policy.

Russia-hating hysterics in the United States have resulted in the adoption of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. In other unprecedented moves, the United States has shut down the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and seized five Russian diplomatic properties.

At this point, we can hardly expect any positive US moves. The potential for cooperation in global and bilateral affairs remains largely unused because of the anti-Russia hysterics. Declaring Russia an adversary in legislation is an absurd and irresponsible move. We in Russia do not look at the United States from the same angle. On the contrary, we have always respected the American nation and its achievements.

In other words, we will continue to act pragmatically and will not seek confrontation. We believe that it is in the common interests of Russia and the United States to join efforts against terrorism, drug trafficking, WMD proliferation and organised crime. A coordination of efforts is vitally important to settle regional conflicts. As President Putin has said more than once, Russia is open to cooperation with the United States on all issues and is willing to cover its part of the way towards stabilising and improving relations, which have deteriorated in the past few years through no fault of ours. We hope that common sense will prevail in Washington’s corridors of power in the foreseeable future.

At the same time, we will continue to reply to unfriendly moves on the principle of reciprocity.

Question: Russia has successfully resolved problems linked with immigration from post-Soviet republics. What should the European Union and its member countries do to stem the tide of immigrants from North African countries which is supported by international organised crime?

Sergey Lavrov: The large-scale immigration crisis that has engulfed Europe is the direct consequence of a policy of “exporting” the state system, of meddling in the domestic affairs of sovereign states, primarily those in the Middle East and North Africa. These short-sighted actions weakened or demolished institutions of state authority, caused humanitarian disasters and an upsurge of terrorism and extremism. This provoked an all-out exodus of people from these regions.

Obviously, it is impossible to effectively solve Europe’s immigration problems without the elimination of their root causes. It is necessary to redouble efforts for resolving crises and conflicts, primarily those in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, by peaceful and political-diplomatic means. It is necessary to assist regional countries in either strengthening or restoring their statehood, conducting socioeconomic rehabilitation and putting them on the path of sustainable development. It is necessary to continue an uncompromising struggle against terrorism, as stipulated by the initiative of President Vladimir Putin to establish a broad anti-terrorist coalition under UN auspices that I have already mentioned.

Today, it is important to adequately monitor immigration flows and to rule out the possibility of terrorists penetrating European countries with people in need of real assistance. It is unacceptable to make refugees an object of political manipulations on the part of forces inciting ethnic, religious as well as social hatred. It is all the more unacceptable to use refugee camps for recruiting and training militants. At the same time, it is important to counter xenophobia, racism and intolerance towards immigrants themselves.

We are ready to continue cooperating with the EU in the area of immigration and to exchange experience in resolving immigration problems. We are interested in resuming contacts within the Russia-EU immigration dialogue as soon as possible. It goes without saying that we are ready to more actively cooperate with the EU while countering terrorism.

And, finally, we believe that countries that were actively involved in destabilising vast regions of the Middle East and North Africa should assume the greatest primary responsibility for assisting refugees and forced migrants. In this connection, we perceive the “sharing of responsibility” concept being advanced by a number of states as an attempt to shift the relevant burden on someone else’s shoulders.

 

To be continued...

http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2971828?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw&_101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw_languageId=en_GB




LATEST EVENTS

18.06.2018 - Comment of the Embassy Representative on the British Authorities Response to the Complaints of the Russian Nationals about Unjustified Actions Towards Them upon Arrival in the UK

Question: Has there been a response from the British authorities with regard to the information sent to the Embassy by Russian citizens experiencing biased approach from the UK Border Force officials upon arrival in the UK? Answer: In response to the Embassy’s requests to the British Side to put an end to the practice of excessive and inappropriate security measures against Russian citizens (including minors) at the border in the points of entry to the UK, the UK Home Office has issued a formal reply. A letter printed on the Home Office form addressed to the Embassy consists of three sentences, does not contain any signature and is in essence a runaround reply reduced to “routine checks”. This demonstrates the lack of responsibility and ignorance towards serious concerns of the Russian Side and ordinary citizens travelling to the UK.


18.06.2018 - Comment of the Embassy Representative on the Consideration of the Russian Requests for Legal Assistance in the Cases of Nikolay Glushkov and Yulia Skripal by the British Side

Question: Are there any changes in the UK position on cooperation with the Russian Federation on the investigation of the murder of Nikolay Glushkov and the attempt on the lives of the Skripals? What is the current status of the requests by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia received by the UK Home Office? Answer: The British Side continues to keep deafening silence and has not provided answers neither to the Prosecutor General’s Office, nor the Embassy on the status of the official requests for legal assistance on the criminal cases initiated in Russia after the murder and the attempt of murder of Russian citizens on the British soil. Clearly, the UK is showing zero interest in cooperating on the investigation of these high-profile cases. These actions undermine law enforcement and other legal procedures aimed at establishing the truth and justice.


16.06.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the article by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in the “Sun” newspaper, 15 June

Q: What is your reaction to the article by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in the “Sun” newspaper, where he claims UK chose not to boycott World Cup in order not to be unfair towards players and sport fans, because they “have a dispute solely with the Government of Russia”? A: We took note of the abovementioned article. We agree that politics should not intervene in affairs of international sport. And Mr Foreign Secretary is right claiming that British fans in Russia have no reasons to feel threatened. Russian authorities, in cooperation with foreign partners, took every precaution to ensure maximum comfort and security for all World Cup guests. We are happy to have over 600 000 guests from practically every country in the world, including 10 000 British fans.


15.06.2018 - Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s meeting with British Ambassador to Russia Laurence Bristow, 15 June 2018

On June 15, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov met with British Ambassador to Russia Laurence Bristow at the latter’s request.


15.06.2018 - President Putin's speech at the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony at Luzhniki Stadium, 14 June 2018

Friends, I welcome all guests to the legendary Moscow stadium Luzhniki, everyone gathered in the numerous fan zones of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and those watching us on television or online. I congratulate you – the entire large, multinational, tightly-knit international football family – on the start of the top tournament on the planet!


13.06.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning Russia’s response to the G7 statement on the Salisbury incident

Q: What is your reaction to the G7 Communiqué, where Russia is again accused of having poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal? A: Just as in the case of the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in April, we have again witnessed unfounded allegations against Russia, not supported by any evidence. The British authorities continue to rely on allies’ “solidarity” while offering their partners nothing but assertions that there is “no other plausible explanation” of the incident except that Russia is responsible.


13.06.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the inquest into the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Q: Today marks three months since the death of Nikolay Glushkov. How would you comment on the course of the investigation by the British authorities of this case? A: We have to note that the British authorities are still refusing us cooperation on the investigation of the death on the British soil of ex-Deputy Director General of “Aeroflot” Nikolay Glushkov that occurred on 12 March.


08.06.2018 - Russia-Belarus border control rules for attendees of major sports competitions in Russia

On June 1, 2018 the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Belarus on certain issues related to the entry of foreign citizens and stateless persons to international sports competitions came into force. The document in particular regulates the entry procedure for certain categories of foreign citizens into the territory of the Union State during the preparations and hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Agreement provides for visa-free entry into the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus for the holders of spectator identity cards (fan passports or FAN IDs) or information about them provided they have an authentic ID. The said citizens can also cross the Russia-Belarus border if they travel via the following motor roads: M-1, P-23, A-240 and following railway routes Vitebsk-Pskov, Minsk-Smolensk, Gomel-Bryansk.


08.06.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new legislation introduced to Parliament in the context of the Salisbury poisoning

Question: How would you comment on the new bill introduced by the British government to give police new powers to investigate all forms of “hostile state activity” and to stop, question, search and detain individuals at the UK border to determine whether they appear to be a person who is, or has been, engaged in hostile activity? Answer: We do not have the opportunity to review and assess the whole text of the bill. Meanwhile, it is unclear from publicly available information, how these new sweeping powers of British law enforcement, border and customs agencies will be applied in practice. In regard to whom and how will they be used? Who and how will examine the level of “hostility” of foreign States’ activities?


08.06.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the publication of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s report “The FCO’s preparations for the 2018 World Cup”

Q.: How would you comment on the contents of the report by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee expressing concerns over safety and security of British fans at the 2018 World Cup in Russia? A.: Unfortunately, this report is another attempt to fuel anti-Russian sentiments on the eve of the World Cup despite the fact that the British police and the FCO have given positive assessments of their cooperation with Russia’s law enforcement authorities on safety and security issues at the World Cup.



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