Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Workneh Gebeyehu Addis-Ababa, March 9, 2018
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First and foremost, I would like to thank once again my colleague and friend, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia Workneh Gebeyehu, and all our Ethiopian friends for their traditional hospitality.
Our meetings were timed to coincide with celebrations of the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. A number of events in Russia and Ethiopia were organised to mark this anniversary, including academic conferences, exhibitions and many other activities.
In particular, we focused on the need to step up trade, economic and investment cooperation, and agreed to revitalise the Russian-Ethiopian Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific, Technical and Trade Cooperation with the view to implementing joint projects in various spheres, such as energy, including nuclear power and hydropower, as well as geological surveys, air travel and a number of other areas. We must also make use of the significant potential for cooperation in high technology, research and education.
Several thousand Ethiopian nationals have graduated from Russian universities. Today, we reaffirmed our support for the Association of Alumni of Soviet and Russian Higher Education Institutions that was established in Ethiopia and is an important part of African society.
We discussed sending two groups of Ethiopian diplomats to the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry for a professional development course.
We also considered military technical cooperation. All these areas will be subject to separate intergovernmental agreements and memoranda that will strengthen the legal framework of our contacts.
We noted our concurring views on the key international matters, including the need to fully respect international law, the central and leading role of the UN and the goal of democratising international relations.
Russia and Ethiopia advocate respect for cultural and civilisational diversity in today’s world, the right of the peoples to determine their own destiny and the peaceful settlement of all disputes through inclusive dialogue and without outside interference. On the basis of these principles, we closely coordinate our actions on the international stage, including within the UN, especially in view of the fact that in 2017 and 2018 Ethiopia serves as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Today, we reviewed progress regarding the settlement of a number of conflicts in Africa, paying special attention to the Horn of Africa and the situation in South Sudan. We reaffirmed the need for Africans to find ways of settling crisis situations independently. Working with our African friends in the UN Security Council, the African Union and other sub-regional organisations, Russia is committed to supporting their efforts in resolving all these issues by backing relevant resolutions and contributing to training and equipping peacekeepers.
I believe that these talks were very useful and helped advance our relations in a number of important areas.
Question: Can you give us a timeline on when the nuclear project will be implemented in Ethiopia?
Sergey Lavrov: Talks are underway on creating a nuclear technology centre in Ethiopia based on the research reactor that was designed in Russia and is already operating. These efforts have gained considerable momentum, and there are no reasons to talk about any delay. They will be further accelerated once we complete the drafting of intergovernmental agreements that are required for this project to be implemented.
Question: My question is about the nuclear project. How is it going to be used in Ethiopia and what is its purpose?
Sergey Lavrov: The nuclear technology centre will carry out research, for example, with a view to opening new horizons for Ethiopia in areas of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, such as radiological medicine. As I have already said, a research reactor designed in Russia has been operating in Ethiopia for quite some time now. The nuclear technology centre will be based on this research reactor.
Question: US senators have called on the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to resume dialogue on strategic security after the President Vladimir Putin’s statement on new weapons. Has the time come to resume dialogue and update New START?
Sergey Lavrov: We have always advocated continuing and developing dialogue on strategic stability between Russia and the US. When almost all cooperation channels were suspended under the Obama administration because of the anti-Russia policy adopted by the US, it was Russia that initiated the resumption of discussions on this subject. Of course, this dialogue should be based on mutual respect, balance of interests and be held without any preconditions.
As for New START, which you also mentioned in your question, all interaction mechanism are stipulated by the treaty itself, and used in relation to the commission established to oversee its implementation.