Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s reply to a media question on tension between Canada and Saudi Arabia
Question: Relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia have recently soured after Canada’s Foreign Ministry criticised human rights violations and called for the immediate release of political activists in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has announced its decision to call its ambassador in Ottawa back for consultations, expel the Canadian Ambassador and suspend flights to Canada by the Saudi Arabia state airline.
Will you comment on this, please?
Maria Zakharova: We consistently and firmly advocate compliance with universal human rights with due regard for the specific national customs and traditions that developed in a given country over a long period of time. We have always said that the politicisation of human rights matters is unacceptable.
We believe that Saudi Arabia, which has entered a path towards large-scale socioeconomic reform, has the sovereign right to decide how it will proceed in this vital sphere. What one probably needs in this situation is constructive advice and assistance rather than criticism from a “moral superior.”
At the same time, we hope that Saudi Arabia and Canada will find a civilised solution to their differences.