29 May 201316:04

Speech and answers to questions of mass media by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during joint press conference summarizing the results of negotiations with foreign ministers of the extended Troika of SELAC, Moscow, 29 May 2013


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Today we have conducted negotiations with foreign ministers of the extended Troika of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. This is our second meeting, but the first held in Moscow. Before that, we met in September 2012 in New York. We view our current visit as an important stage in our relations with SELAC – a community of all 33 countries of Latin American and Caribbean States dynamically gathering pace.

The creation of the Community shows the disposition of peoples of the region to the consolidation of integration processes, the establishment of the Latin America as one of global growth centres, an important pole of multilateral world order.

We highly evaluate that our positions in key international problems match. First of all, this is consistent assertion of principles of multilateralization, approval of the supremacy of international law, strict adherence to key regulations of the UN Charter, including peace processes on disputes, respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries, non-interference into internal affairs.

We agreed on the creation of a mechanism of political dialog in the format Russia-SELAC at the level of foreign ministers. We will continue to meet also "on the fields" of different international forums, primarily within the UN. We will also plan meetings in capitals of not only the Russian Federation, but also of those countries, which preside in or are members of the Troika of SELAC. We agreed to fix the results of such meetings in joint statements.

The statement approved by us at the current meeting reflects our approaches in a wide range of discussed topics. They include the consolidation of the central role of the UN, the support of international peace and security, enforcement of human rights and liberties, combating international terrorism and drug business, counteracting the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, including the task of creation of a zone free from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and means of its supply, counteracting militarization of space, non-admission of falsification of history, including the problem of glorification of Nazism, as well as issues of environmental protection, sustainable economic development. We exchanged opinions in respect of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa region, including the position in Syria and around it.

We are thankful to our colleagues for their support of the initiative to convene the international conference on the peace process in Syria and our approaches to its organisation without any preconditions. We discussed topical issues for the Latin American region. This refers specifically to the need for faster stopping of the blockade of Cuba, political settlement of the problem of Maldives and tasks of assisting our friends in Haiti to restore their economy and ensure stability. We reviewed the situation in the global economy. It affects all our countries. We are thankful for the support of priorities of Russian presidency in the Group of Twenty by Latin American and Caribbean States. We have already accumulated good and valuable experience of interaction in the Group of Twenty with the countries of the regions, which are its members.

Our friends have expressed the idea on establishment of contacts between SELAC and BRICS, in particular "on the fields" of different international meetings. This idea seems attractive to us; we will certainly discuss it with other countries, members of BRICS.

We also talked about the bilateral trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Latin America with the emphasis on the increase of the share of high tech projects, creation of technological alliances and joint production facilities. We also talked about the increasing mutual interest to the increase in the number of exchanges in the sphere of culture, education and science. The visa free regime established in relations between the Russian Federation and majority of countries of Latin American and Caribbean States is actual motivation for that. We have set the task of establishing Russia-SELAC visa-free space – I hope that we will be able to implement it in the nearest future. This will be an important contribution to the consolidation of our relations, creation of maximally favourable conditions for communication among people and for the development of the entire spectrum of our substantial, rich links, in general.

I thank my colleagues for successful negotiations.

Question (question to all ministers): What aspects of Russia-SELAC cooperation are currently the most important?

Sergey Lavrov (answers the first): My answer will be short. We talked about it with Foreign Minister of Cuba Bruno Rodríguez in our introductory speeches. I cannot distinguish one line, which is "more important" than others. We wish to develop our partnership in each and all lines and in each and all fields: political dialog, trade, economics, cooperation in humanitarian, cultural spheres, in high tech, implementation of joint projects. For the purposes of that, we are interested in more active meetings of businesses of our countries and searches for mutually beneficial, prospective projects. This concerns coordination of actions at the international arena. So, irrespective of the field, we feel interest to the development of interaction everywhere and this will be our guide. By the way, all our approaches are consolidated in the final statement, which rather completely reflects intents of Russia and SELAC in what concerns mutual cooperation.

Question: Today a session of the UN Commission on Human Rights is held in Geneva, where we expect criticism for the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad for recruiting contractors to fight on the side of the regime. Why do some external players put aside the fact that contractors are also fighting at the side of the opposition? To what extent does the position of Russia and SELAC match in the issue of Syrian peace process?

Sergey Lavrov: From the very beginning of this conflict, we have repeatedly and insistently cautioned against the attempts to internationalize it. Despite the fact, the inflow of militants from abroad was consistently increasing, including from Libya, countries of the Middle East and North Africa and in the recent months also from Europe and other regions. The flow of weapons supplied to militants, armed opposition was also extending, though supplies of armaments to non-state players is not legitimate according to international law.

To that end, I will also mention the decisions adopted yesterday by the European Union about non-extension of embargo for the supply of weapons to the opposition. There are serious questions to ask. First of all, as I have already said, international law considers supplies of weapons to non-state players to be illegitimate. The recently coordinated draft international arms trade treaty, initiated by the United Kingdom and several other EU member-states, also fixes the inadmissibility of weapon supplies to non-state subjects, at least, without consent of the country, on whose territory they are operating. If we talk about the legal framework of transfer of weapons, the EU adopted a Code of Conduct on arms exports at the end of 90s. It explicitly prohibits such supplies. Therefore, an embargo for something already prohibited by international law, including EU legislation, is ambiguous from the very beginning, but now its cancellation makes the situation even more complex, as a minimum, creating very serious obstacles on the way to the implementation of convention of the international conference for Syria.

You mentioned the attempts to get through a bilateral, odious resolution in the Human Rights Council. Such resolution has been recently adopted by the UN General Assembly. Though the number of its advocates reduced by almost 30 countries compared to the last year, its adoption and the insistence in promotions demonstrated, in particular, by several countries of the Persian Gulf, unambiguously means for us an attempt to create obstacles on the way to the implementation of the Russian-American initiative, because the UNGA resolution was activated immediately after our joint initiative, which was announced during the visit of John Kerry to Moscow on 7 May of this year. The Human Rights Council attempts to do the same. To my great surprise, we learned that beside co-authors of this resolution (Qatar and Turkey), the US delegation is also actively promoting this not very valuable idea. I drew the attention of John Kerry to this, when I was in Paris. It turned out that he was not aware of the situation and promised me to study it. I do not know whether he will be able to do that.

The National Coalition does not represent all the Syrians, there are those who work inside Syria, have never left this country and live through all the events in SAR together with its people. The National Coalition does not represent all the Syrians, there are those who work inside Syria, have never left this country and lived through all the events in SAR together with its people. It turns out that now they were "called up" to replace the regime.

We sincerely talked about it with John Kerry, Laurent Fabius, other colleagues in Europe, the Persian Gulf and Turkish partners. We are trying to convince them that any unilateral actions make it even more difficult to find a political settlement. If all of us are committed to this (these particular words are heard from everybody), we need to avoid unilateral "spoilers" and do everything to convince opposition members to sit at the negotiation table without any preconditions, ensuring full-scale representation of all groups of the Syrian opposition, and full-scale representation of external players, including Iran and all Arab neighbours of SAR.

As to contractors fighting at the side of the regime, Hezbollah does not hide and its leader has announced that combatants of this wide Shiite movement were sent to Syria, as it was emphasized, to protect Shiites, Alawites and Shiite sanctities, that regularly become subject of destruction and attack threats from militants. We warned about it. The conflict is acquiring an interreligious nature more and more consistently. This will cost us deepening of contradictions inside the Islamic world and serious threats for non-Muslim groups – Christians, Druzes, Kurds, etc. Therefore, we do not see any other ways other than convention of the conference. However, each and all need to work honestly, not allowing for double standards. Nobody should speak in favour of the conference and support of this initiative, but actually make steps aimed at disruption of this offer.

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