Remarks by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a joint press conference following talks with Norwegian Foreign Minister Broge Brende, Kirkenes, October 25, 2014
I would like to express appreciations to our Norwegian friends and neighbours for organising today's events to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of northern Norway by the Red Army. It was a very moving and emotional ceremony involving veterans who recalled how Soviet soldiers along with their Norwegian comrades-in-arms liberated this land.
We are profoundly grateful to our Norwegian friends for holding the memory of those who died to liberate Finnmark. Today's talks have confirmed that our brotherhood in combat has substantially strengthened the foundations of our good-neighbour relations. These relations today are of course coming under some strain because Norway has joined the unilateral restrictive measures against Russia for reasons that we believe lie outside the country.
Nevertheless, today we have confirmed our mutual interest in developing relations in the economic sphere, in environmental protection, in ensuring nuclear and radiation safety, and on matters of cross-border interaction. We have reaffirmed the usefulness of the formats established in the north: the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, the Baltic Council and the Northern Dimension project. We have exchanged opinions on key international issues, including the situation in the Middle East and North Africa and the need to consistently combat terrorism. Naturally, as my colleague has just said, we discussed Ukraine. Our position on the Ukrainian crisis – its genesis and ways out of it – is well known, and President Putin spoke about it in detail at a meeting of the Valdai Club yesterday. We continue to stand behind consistent compliance with the Minsk agreement. This is a very important agreement because for the first time the Kiev authorities and the self-defence forces in the South East directly agreed on de-escalation steps with the collaboration of Russia and the OSCE. We believe that all the external parties, including Russia and the Western countries, should bring influence to bear on the Ukrainian parties to ensure full compliance with these agreements.
On the day that marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of northern Norway from Fascist invaders we could not but touch upon the problem of the resurgence of neo-Nazi trends in Europe, including in Ukraine. We are aware that our Norwegian friends do not want to see any radical trends in Europe, especially neo-Nazi ones. Russia is convinced that it is necessary to do everything to prevent the establishment of new "Banderas," "Shukhevyches" and "Quislings."
In conclusion I would like once again to thank all of our Norwegian friends, especially the people of Finnmark and Kirkenes, for creating a positive atmosphere at this event.
Question: Are the differences between Russia and Norway over Ukraine hindering cooperation between the two countries?
Sergey Lavrov: The restrictions introduced in the economy and trade are never conducive to broader cooperation. We hope that eventually common sense and the national interests of each country, and not external pressure, will prevail.