Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS)
Transcript of Remarks and Response to Media Questions by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at Joint Press Conference Following Talks with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, Oslo, June 7, 2011
I am very pleased to take part in the ceremony to exchange the instruments of ratification for the Russia-Norway Treaty on Maritime Delimitation and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. Legal foundations are thereby created for the countdown to the start of its practical realization – July 7, 2011.
The leaders of our two countries spoke at length about the historic significance of the Treaty during the 2010 Norway visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. That contributed decisively to the successful ratification of the document in both capitals. The Treaty is absolutely fair and mutually beneficial, and is fully consistent with the norms and principles of modern international law. It secures the interests of Russia and Norway in their organic synergy, as it should be between good neighbors.
Our fishermen will be able to fish the same way as they have done hitherto. At the same time, the Treaty provides additional opportunities for even more efficient use of shared biological resources. Its entry into force brings to a close the long-running bilateral moratorium on oil and gas exploration on the continental shelf. This opens up broad prospects for enhancing the strategic partnership in the energy sector between Russia and Norway. Additional opportunities are created for cooperation in related areas such as transport, infrastructure and the construction of sea-going ships.
The signing of the Treaty and its entry into force underscore that all issues in the North can be tackled peacefully through the efforts of coastal states on the basis of mutual agreements and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, without the intervention of any extra-regional forces, especially without a confrontational approach.
My counterpart Jonas Gahr Store and I had a detailed talk about these and other issues on the rich cooperation agenda between Russia and Norway today. I am satisfied with the talks. We will strengthen the bilateral partnership and continue to harmonize our approaches to the international agenda, on which our positions are also very close.
In conclusion, I want to congratulate Norway and Minister Jonas Gahr Store personally on the successful chairmanship of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.
Question: What topics do you plan to discuss during the CBSS ministerial session? How can you assess the current level of the economic component of cooperation in the Baltic Sea region?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: We are approaching the CBSS ministerial session with concrete results underlining significant practical progress in the implementation of the Vilnius Declaration ‘A Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2020.' Next year the Council will celebrate its twentieth anniversary. It approaches this jubilee organizationally stronger, with established mechanisms that enable achieving in an efficient and pragmatic way, concrete results in areas of importance to our citizens.
Initiated by Norway in accordance with the exigencies of the times, the reform process of the CBSS should be continued. We advocate that more attention be devoted to areas such as the modernization of economies and societies, innovative high-tech development and the facilitation of people-to-people contacts. The decision of today's meeting contemplates redoubling these efforts, including through the activation of the mechanism of public-private partnership.
Germany takes over from Norway today, and next year Russia will take the Chairman's baton. There is an understanding between our two countries that we shall build these chairmanships in a harmonized fashion, developing cross-cutting projects that will help our region become more efficient in terms of sustainable development and more competitive in the modern world.
Question: How does Russia envision the development of energy cooperation after the entry into force of the bilateral treaty with Norway?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I have already said that the entry into force of the Treaty brings to a close the bilateral moratorium on oil and gas exploration on the continental shelf. Therefore, in addition to the already existing projects of Russian-Norwegian companies there open up great opportunities for potential joint cooperation in this sphere. This process is initiated by officials of our countries responsible for the energy sector who have started to discuss possible synergies, which should be based on mutual respect of the interests of the parties and economic benefits. I think the example of major joint projects between Russia and Norway like the Shtokman field development will trigger the appearance of new plans. I am optimistic about the future.
Question: How do you think the mediation mission of Russia is proceeding in resolving the Libyan conflict?
How can you comment on the recent remarks of the head of the French foreign affairs agency on the draft of a new UN Security Council resolution on Syria?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Russia is not trying to assume a leadership role in Libya mediation. We have repeatedly spoken in favor of having the international community give vigorous support to the leading role of the African Union. Libya is a member of this Organization and the developments in Libya affect the fates of the Libyan people and the peoples of neighboring states. We have also advocated more active cooperation between the African Union and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Libya.
Russian efforts, including the trip that has begun today of Special Presidential Representative Mikhail Margelov to Benghazi, are aimed at establishing the most favorable conditions for reaching an agreement between the parties concerned, with the African Union and UN playing the main role.
As to the proposal that in addition to the Libyan theme in which the UN Security Council and the whole international community are already bogged down, to consider the Syria issue too, I believe that diplomacy must tackle problems through political means, rather than creating the conditions for sliding into new armed conflicts.
In approaches to the serious conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa region you need to exercise the utmost responsibility and take a strategic attitude. Otherwise we will have in the UN Security Council to discuss problems in each of the region's countries, which we would not want. In this case, both the events in Yemen – much more bloody than in some countries of the region – and the events in Bahrain, which do not attract much attention but remain very serious (as confirmed by the decision to cancel the Grand Prix Formula 1 in that state), will have to be discussed in the UN Security Council, as well as taking decisions which against the backdrop of the Libyan precedent will cause great concern among most members of the international community.
We believe that, as in the case of Yemen and Bahrain, it is necessary to rely on the support of the national reconciliation and consensus processes, on the peacemaking and constructive role of the neighboring countries, rather than adopt ever new resolutions which, in essence, would mean supporting the position of one of the parties in an internal confrontation. This is not the role of the UN Security Council, and it directly contradicts the Council's functions enshrined in the UN Charter.
Question: What is the impact of the Maritime Delimitation Treaty and Russian-Norwegian cooperation as a whole on Yamal Peninsula oil and gas development?
Foreign Minister Lavrov (in addition to Gahr Store's response): We are interested in inviting foreign partners to participate in developing Yamal's natural resources. We greatly appreciate the experience of cooperating with Norway and the technological opportunities provided by our Norwegian colleagues. But such decisions must be discussed with the direct participation of relevant agency officials and the Foreign Ministries are not involved in this process.