Comment by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the mass media, summarising the results of the meeting with foreign ministers of the G20 countries and the UN/LAS Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, on the side-lines of the summit in St Petersburg, 6 August 2013
Sergey Lavrov: We took advantage of the participation of the foreign ministers of key countries at the G20 summit in St Petersburg, as well as the inclusion of the UN/LAS Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, in the delegation of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and organised a working breakfast, where we informally exchanged opinions on the Syrian problems to further develop the conversation the leaders had yesterday during the final dinner.
Their positions are well-known, they were replicated today. The main thing is that we tried (like the heads of state yesterday during the dinner) not only to listen, but also to hear each other.
I cannot say it was a prevailing opinion, but it seems to me that many responsible countries demonstrate a clear understanding that the use of force bypassing the UN Security Council will actually bring down the efforts at political settlement and agreement of the international conference Geneva-2, which is the immediate task of our friend and colleague Lakhdar Brahimi. Therefore, the general conclusion of our meeting today is that we need to do everything possible to find a way of not allowing the forceful scenario to bury the political scenario. We still have time for that.
As you know, our parliamentarians have offered their US colleagues the option to have a meeting and exchange views, opinions and stands at this level, especially as the US Congress is now deciding whether or not force will be used against Syria. It is a pity that US congressmen cannot do this. However, I am convinced that while we have not faced the worse, we need to use every day, hour and minute to bring the thought of the harmfulness of the forceful scenario to the public using trustworthy channels. I hope that all the participants at today's meeting understand this well. We will try to continue such work.
Sergey Lavrov (adds to the comment by Lakhdar Brahimi): I would like to fully support the words of Lakhdar Brahimi about the need to respect the UN Charter. Apart from the legal responsibility, each country should abide by its political agreements reached in different formats. To that end, I will point out once again that this June leaders of eight countries, including four permanent members of the UNSC – the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Russia – adopted a joint declaration at the G8 summit in Lough Erne. First, it stated that they condemn any use of chemical weapons by anybody. Second, it stated that any reports about the use of chemical weapons should be professionally and objectively investigated, but the results of the investigations must be presented to the UN Security Council. Accordingly, there is a specific political responsibility in respect to the Syrian crisis, not to bypass the UN Security Council, primarily in the issue as to whether chemical weapons were used and by whom they were used.
Now we hear our American colleagues telling us that they have defined everything for themselves and they have conclusive evidence (which they do not show us in full), therefore they have no need to wait for the results of the work of the inspectors or the results of consideration in the UN Security Council. However, we will follow the principle reflected in the wisest Russian proverb, which was respected and used as a guide by Ronald Reagan – "Trust but verify". However, one can verify only on the basis of objective facts and only through legitimate bodies like the UNSC.
Question: Is it known when the examination conducted by the UN to investigate reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria will be completed?
Sergey Lavrov: As Lakhdar Brahimi noted, there are scientific standards, which are used as a guide by the inspectors.