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6 March 201809:12

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answer to a media question at a news conference following talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Windhoek, March 5, 2018

415-06-03-2018

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Madam Minister,

Friends,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I was glad to receive a generous invitation from Madam Minister to visit Namibia following her visit to Russia just over a year ago.

We in Russia attach much significance to our warm and friendly relations with Namibia, which is our reliable and time-tested partner. Our Namibian friends remember very well, which we appreciate, that for nearly 30 years before Namibia gained sovereignty Russia provided all-round assistance to the Namibian patriots, who fought for national liberation under the guidance of the South-West Africa’s Peoples Organisation (SWAPO).

Our present-day relations in many spheres, from the economy to culture, are based on this solid foundation, which has consolidated friendship and mutual respect between our nations. We have agreed to facilitate the activities of the Russian-Namibian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, which is co-chaired by Madam Minister. The most recent meeting of this commission adopted practical and useful decisions in mining, agriculture, energy, fisheries and tourism, as well as personnel training.

Today we expressed our common support to the efforts of our countries’ business communities to strengthen direct ties between them and to coordinate joint projects in Namibia. We have also agreed to improve the legal framework of our relations. There are several profitable contracts, intergovernmental agreements and inter-agency memorandums in the works, and we will do our best to coordinate them as soon as possible.

We share the view on making international relations more democratic and on strengthening the central coordinating role of the UN and its Security Council. It is of vital significance in this context that we reach consensus on the reform of the UN Security Council as soon as possible, so that the developing countries will be represented more fairly in this central body, which is responsible for international peace and security. We respect the African Union’s position on this issue.

We also hold similar views on the importance of a peaceful political settlement of the numerous conflicts and crises, which, regrettably, persist in the world, including in the Middle East and North Africa. I am referring to the Syrian crisis, the West Sahara problems, and, of course, the Palestinian-Israeli relations. International decisions formulated as UN resolutions have been adopted on all of these and many other conflicts, including in Africa. Namibia and Russia are in favour of strict implementation of these resolutions. Today we highlighted Namibia’s contribution to settling a number of conflicts in Africa within the framework of the African Union and sub-regional organisations, such as the Southern African Development Community.

I would like to thank my colleague once again. I hope that next time we will meet in Russia. I invite Madam Minister to Russia again.

Question: The issue of Syria is on the agenda of your African tour, in one way or another. The Western pressure on Russia has recently reached an unprecedented scale. The leaders of the US, France and Germany are urging us to do something to end the hostilities in Eastern Ghouta. What can we say to this? Will we respond to these calls?

Sergey Lavrov: Syria is not the only issue over which Russia is being pressured. Many other current international issues are being used to put pressure on Russia. I have even heard that Russia is being blamed for the recent cold spell in Europe.

We always implement our agreements. Speaking about Eastern Ghouta, we are firmly committed to Resolution 2401, which the UN Security Council adopted by consensus. I would like to point out that the main provision of this resolution is that all Syrian parties must coordinate at least a 30-day ceasefire for humanitarian deliveries. Our Western partners prefer to disregard this provision and insist, as you have pointed out, that the Syrian Government unilaterally stop the hostilities and that Russia withdraw its support. These actions by the Syrian Government, which we support, are aimed at suppressing Jabhat al-Nusra, which is a terrorist group whose activities are not covered by the UNSC resolution’s provision on the ceasefire throughout the period stipulated in this resolution. It is absolutely legitimate to wage a consistent and irreconcilable fight against this group.

There is increasing evidence that our Western partners would like to protect Jabhat al-Nusra, which has changed its name but this has not changed its essence, and to save it in case our partners decide to re-enact the so-called Plan B, which involves a regime change in Damascus. We are receiving a growing amount of information from various sources, which indicates that this narrow and non-inclusive group, which the Americans have created for dealing with Syrian issues, is considering disintegration plans for Syria. This is further evidence of our Western partners’ inability to honour their agreements. While paying lip service to respecting Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, they have actually entered a path that runs contrary to UNSC resolutions. One must act honestly. Regrettably, this is something our Western partners are lacking.

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