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Speech by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and his answers to questions from the mass media during the press conference summarising the results of the negotiations with the Kazakh Foreign Minister, Erlan Idrisov, Astana, 12 September 2013

1729-12-09-2013

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have completed our substantial negotiations with my colleague the Kazakh Foreign Minister, Erlan Idrisov. They were held in a trustworthy and friendly atmosphere as is common in a dialogue between close partners.

Strategic partnership and cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan are developing dynamically. An intensive political dialogue at summit level is probably the weightiest indicator of the level of the bilateral links. We have counted that this year the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev have met no less than 6 times. Tomorrow there will be another contact within the framework of the SCO summit in Bishkek. Each time the meeting of the leaders sets the direction for our further work in the short and long term. All these lines embrace far-reaching trade and economic cooperation, including in the area of energy, high tech, transport and outer space.

The key areas of cooperation in the form of specific projects are included in the Joint Operating Plan for 2013 – 2015 approved by the Presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan on the 19 December 2012, which is further evidence of the mutual interest in becoming closer through the implementation of very specific projects. This Plan includes 44 projects, eleven are being implemented this year. 18 ministries and agencies are involved in this work on behalf of Russia. As I understand it, a matching number of Kazakh agencies are also involved in this interaction. Annual Forums of Interregional Cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan, where government chiefs are present, contribute to the build-up of links between the different regions. The X anniversary Forum will be held in Yekaterinburg in the autumn.

We highly value the far-flung, disinterested humanitarian cooperation. We have many common interests combining our people in this area. We highly appreciate that Kazakhstan supports the Russian language, the Russian culture, spirituality, and I obtained assurance of this today, when I visited the Dormition Cathedral. Incidentally, it was the Day of St. Alexander Nevsky who is the patron of diplomats in Russia.

Today we discussed issues involved in the preparation of the Treaty on good neighbourly relations and the alliance of Russia and Kazakhstan in the XXI century, which we plan to enter into by the end of this year as ordered by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Nursultan Nazarbayev. This document is oriented towards the future, it should bring our cooperation to a level of new quality taking into account the modern realities and the agreements reached on further development of economic integration.

We also exchanged ratifications of the Protocol on amendment of the Agreement on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan of 25 May 1992, having extended it for another 10 years.

Our discussion was certainly focused on practical aspects of interaction within the framework of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the Eurasian Economic Community and the CIS. We devoted particular attention to the work, conducted at the order of the leaders of our states to prepare the Treaty on the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union, which envisages free movement of goods, services, capitals and work force without deductions and restrictions. The work on the draft Treaty is going ahead according to schedule. We agreed to act in the same way and at the same pace. We are convinced that the success of the Eurasian integration project greatly depends on the team play of our countries. Its implementation should increase the competitiveness of our countries in the modern world, and raise the level of welfare of our peoples.

We exchanged opinions about ways of further building-up the CSTO potential, including in the context of the plans to withdraw international military contingencies from Afghanistan in 2014. The practical steps in this respect, which have already been approved or are planed within the framework of the CSTO, will be reviewed at the next summit of the Organisation.

We are grateful to our Kazakh friends for their interaction on the international arena, for the support of our actions in respect to the Syrian crisis and the situation around Iran’s Nuclear Programme. Such interaction is an integral part of our partnership and allied relations.

We discussed issues of coordination of actions of our delegations in international organisations, including the UN, the OSCE, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.

In general, we think that the situation in the Central Asia region requires regular comparison of approaches, including in the context of the efforts of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which will hold its next meeting of the Council of Heads of States in Bishkek tomorrow.

We agreed to maintain close cooperation in all these and many other issues, there is not time to talk about all of them.

I wish again to express our deep gratitude to our Kazakh friends for their traditional hospitality, cordiality, organisation of work. I invited Erlan Idrisov to visit Moscow at any time whenever convenient.

Question: Today you fly to Geneva to meet the US Secretary of State John Kerry. The UN/LAS Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi will also be there. Could you specify who will participate in this meeting, will it be trilateral? Is a separate talk planned between Russian and American experts on Syrian chemical weapons?

Sergey Lavrov: First of all, we agreed to discuss, in Geneva, the initiative (widely supported throughout the world) regarding the need to agree on putting the Syrian arsenals of chemical weapons under international control, understanding that this will involve refraining from the use of armed force against the Syrian Arab Republic. Both the Russian and the American party are sending groups of experts to Geneva, who have the necessary knowledge and experience in determining ways of resolving such questions. These are mostly technical weapons.

We certainly need to ensure the accession of Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which means that the regions of the Syrian Arab Republic with warehouses of chemical weapons and its chemical programme should be disclosed. On these grounds, experts will determine what particular measures will be required to secure places of storage and arsenals of chemical weapons. I repeat that this is a technical side of the case and such examination is required to develop our respective plans.

Of course, we are not going to encroach on preparation works in the Russian-American format. International experts, experts from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) must participate, and our American colleagues have already started a substantial talk with them. Therefore, it is one part of our agenda.

We also agreed with John Kerry that it would be wrong to miss the opportunity to use our stay in Geneva to conduct a meeting devoted to the issues of preparation for the Geneva-2 conference. Since we have a chance to avoid a military scenario with external interference, certainly there is a chance that many months of work on the preparation for Geneva-2 may switch to a practical stage, at the same time understanding that our Western and regional partners will at last ensure a constructive attitude of the inexorable Syrian opposition to the Russian-American initiative to convene an international conference. Against this background, considering the fact that Lakhdar Brahimi and his team are located in Geneva, we do not exclude the possibility of a trilateral meeting to talk about the prospects of Geneva-2 along with the problem of chemical weapons, which currently has top priority.