Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a joint news conference following talks with Chair of the CoE Committee of Ministers and Foreign Minister of Denmark Anders Samuelsen, Moscow, February 6, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
The talks with Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Foreign Minister of Denmark Anders Samuelsen are being held in a friendly atmosphere. This is our second contact. Last year, we met on the sidelines of the 4th Arctic: Territory of Dialogue international forum, in Arkhangelsk.
Today, we focused on the efforts of the Danish chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the overall state of affairs in this international organisation, and the upcoming reform of the European Court of Human Rights. We believe that the well-balanced policy of the Danish chairmanship is designed to help overcome the crisis situation that pertains in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which negatively affects the activities of the entire Council of Europe, and is not conducive to promoting trust on our continent.
We share the view that Denmark, as chair country, can make a useful contribution to resuming normal work at PACE. At least, we have made such a request. We consider it important that representatives of parliaments of all the Council of Europe’s member states without exception can work on an equal footing without being subjected to any kind of persecution for dissent. We hope that common sense will ultimately prevail.
We reviewed some of the issues pertaining to the Council of Europe's current activities. Our colleagues touched on the developments in Ukraine. Russia is interested in an early settlement of the internal Ukraine crisis on the basis of the Minsk Package of Measures. Regarding the role of the CoE in this process, we would like to receive additional information on how the CoE Action Plan for Ukraine, which was adopted long ago - shortly after the onset of the crisis - is being implemented. Among other things, it provides for the need for an impartial and objective investigation into what happened during the Maidan protests in February 2014, in Odessa on May 2, 2014 (when dozens of people were burned alive in the House of Unions), and, in general, concerns the contribution of the CoE to normalising the Ukrainian state’s structure. We are aware that decentralisation was discussed, and we believe it is an important issue. The CoE Secretariat is currently working on a second action plan for Ukraine. We expect it to be more focused on achieving a practical result. So far, Kiev has made very little progress toward full compliance with its international obligations.
Of course, we touched on the key areas of Russia-Denmark relations, including trade and investment. In conjunction with Russian Co-Chair and Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov, Mr Samuelsen will participate in the 11th session of the Intergovernmental Russian-Danish Economic Cooperation Council tomorrow, which is being held in Moscow after an almost five-year break. We both think that resuming this Intergovernmental Council’s activities is a positive development, and we believe that its outcomes should help expand practical cooperation between the two states.
For our part, we raised the matter of Copenhagen reviewing an application for building the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline in the territorial waters of the Kingdom of Denmark. We underscored our principled position that this application should be considered based on the legislation that existed in Denmark and the EU in general at the time of filing in April 2017.
We positively assessed cooperation between our respective ministries. We just signed a Plan of Cooperation for 2018-2019. I am confident that if implemented, it will help promote a constructive dialogue on current issues, including the military-political situation in Europe, security in the Baltic region, the Arctic, human rights, or any other topics of concern to one side or the other. Today, our colleagues raised a number of their concerns regarding our relations. We have our own assessments of current developments. I am convinced that overcoming differences is best done not through a microphone, but exclusively through contacts and a dialogue, by understanding each other and seeking generally acceptable solutions. I am pleased that out talks today are being held in that kind of atmosphere.
We will continue to exchange views. We hope that the results of this meeting will serve to strengthen mutual understanding between our countries, and help resolve the pressing challenges facing the Council of Europe.
I thank Chair of the CoE Committee of Ministers and Foreign Minister of Denmark Anders Samuelsen.