Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answer to questions at the news conference following talks with Mongolian Foreign Minister Damdin Tsogtbaatar, May 16, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have had very useful, trust-based talks with our Mongolian friends. We have discussed a wide range of issues concerning our bilateral relations as well as issues concerning the situation in the world, above all in Asia and the APR.
Both sides have reaffirmed that our neighbourly relations rest on a history of many years of fruitful interaction and have a diversified character. We have reaffirmed out mutual desire to further strengthen our strategic partnership.
Next year will mark the 80th anniversary of the victory on the Khalkin-Gol River. This is a glorious page of our common history and a real example of mutual understanding, mutual help and comradeship-in-arms. We have agreed that this anniversary should be celebrated fittingly.
We have reviewed progress in implementing the Medium-Term Programme for the Development of Strategic Partnership signed in 2016, noted the positive dynamics of the political dialogue, including at the high and top levels, as well as the good dynamics of interparliamentary, interagency, interparty, cultural and humanitarian exchanges.
We believe it is important to increase the practical results of the activities of the Russia-Mongolia Intergovernmental Commission for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation. The Commission held its regular meeting in Moscow in February of this year and came up with a substantive Protocol listing the agreements that should be consistently implemented.
We stressed the importance of continuing and stepping up the negotiations in the framework of the Working Group for Interaction between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the Government of Mongolia created in 2016. The group had its second meeting in Ulan-Bataar in February 2017. We hope that it will work at a regular pace because stronger ties between the EAEU and Mongolia will definitely give a boost to mutual trade, investment projects and expanded inter-regional and cross-border cooperation.
We also discussed the forthcoming exchanges in the framework of trilateral Russia-Mongolia-China cooperation. We exchanged opinions on current international and regional problems. We have agreed to continue coordinating our actions at multilateral venues, above all the UN, the OSCE of which Mongolia has been a full-fledged member since 2012, at the SCO and at various Asia-Pacific forums.
I think the talks have been useful and have confirmed out mutual intention to make active use of the potential of bilateral ties in accordance with the agreements reached during the meetings of President Putin of Russia and President Battulga of Mongolia.
Question: Recent SCO summits have seen the emergence of a new trilateral format of interaction between Russia, China and Mongolia. An economic corridor linking the three countries is scheduled to open this year. How are the construction of the trunk road and trilateral cooperation as a whole progressing?
Sergey Lavrov (answering after Damdin Tsogtbaatar): I can only confirm that Mongolia, being an observer in the SCO, is cooperating very actively in a whole number of areas. Russia would be only too glad if Mongolia continues to expand its participation in the SCO. It is true that in recent years the trilateral meetings of the presidents of Russia, China and Mongolia have taken place fairly frequently on the sidelines of the SCO summits. Pursuant to the agreements the three leaders reached at their previous meetings, the project to create an economic corridor linking the three countries is under way. It will include a motorway and we are discussing road transport logistical projects which have a good chance of being implemented. The relevant documents are ready and will shortly be approved. In principle, we would like trilateral cooperation to take into account the interests of Mongolia as much as possible, including its interest in increasing transit through its territory from China and Russia to Europe. If memory serves, last year container haulage via Mongolia to Europe increased 2.7 times. The dynamics have been quite impressive since the start of this year.
On the whole the trilateral projects we are implementing together with our Mongolian and Chinese friends fit in with the integration processes on our big common continent, including under the Great Eurasian Partnership project through liberalisation, development of diverse cooperation in the trade and economic sphere among the member countries of the EAEU, SCO and ASEAN. I do not have the slightest doubt that the implementation of these plans in the context of the Great Eurasian Partnership will bring nothing but gains to Mongolia. So, we will welcome its active participation in all these undertakings.