Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communities and Defence Minister of the Republic of Cabo Verde Luis Filipe Tavares, Moscow, April 30, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
We had very good, substantive, detailed and results-oriented talks with my colleague Luis Filipe Tavares and the delegation he leads.
We emphasised that relations between our two countries have traditionally been friendly and are built on the principles of mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests. We reaffirmed our mutual interest in promoting bilateral relations in all areas, including political dialogue, inter-parliamentary contacts and, in particular, trade and economic relations and investment as in this area we, clearly, are not up to the overall level of our partnership.
We agreed to take additional measures to step up our economic partnership and identify and use all opportunities available to us, including via direct contacts between members of the business community, which can be encouraged, as we have agreed to do earlier today, through the more active involvement of businesspeople from Cabo Verde in events in Russia, in particular, in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum scheduled to take place in June.
I would like to make special mention of the fact that Minister of Industry, Trade and Energy Alexandre Dias Monteiro is also a member of the delegation from Cabo Verde. As I understand, yesterday the delegation had talks at the Russian Ministry of Energy, which proved quite useful as they helped identify practical ways of boosting our cooperation, in particular, in hydropower engineering and water use. Other areas were also discussed, in particular, agriculture and tourism.
Today, we have talked in detail about tourism, including in the context of the Visa Waiver Agreement between Russia and Cabo Verde we have just signed. We believe this agreement, after it comes into force, will encourage tourism, as well as cultural and educational exchanges and contacts between people in the two countries.
We agreed to expand the practice of professional training. We have traditionally provided training to citizens of Cabo Verde. In total, about 2,000 Caboverdians received education at our universities. We are confident that they are making an important contribution to developing their country’s economy and social sphere.
The delegation also had a meeting at the Interior Ministry yesterday to discuss cooperation in law enforcement, in particular, establishing more effective cooperation in combating drug trafficking.
Our respective foreign ministries enjoy good relations. A Protocol on Cooperation, which is the basis of regular consultations on a wide range of international and African agendas, has been in effect since 2002. In our actions, including at the UN, we are guided by respect for international law, the UN Charter principles, primarily, non-interference in internal affairs, the peaceful settlement of disputes and, of course, respect for the inalienable right of nations to determine their own future. We share an interest in building up cooperation at the UN and other multilateral venues. To this end, we have agreed to update the Protocol on Cooperation between our foreign ministries, taking into account today’s realities and the already advanced nature of our coordination in the international arena.
Today, we focused on African affairs. We share the opinion that the continent’s problems, which, unfortunately, are many, should be addressed primarily by developing appropriate approaches by the Africans themselves with the understanding that the international community should provide them with political, moral and legal assistance by way of adopting corresponding UN Security Council resolutions, as well as material and financial assistance. I’m talking about the need to support the peacemaking efforts of the African Union and sub-regional organisations on the African continent. We used this approach to discuss the situation in Mali, the Central African Republic, the Sahara-Sahel region in general, Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea. The assessments provided by our friends on these and other issues on the African agenda were very helpful. We will fully take them into account in our work at the UN Security Council. We will continue to contribute to developing the approaches of the international community to resolving the security and stability problems on the continent, taking into account the interests of Africans.
Speaking of security, we mentioned our ongoing cooperation in the Navy today. We have an agreement that was signed last August. Today, we agreed to use it more comprehensively, including to combat piracy, which continues in eastern Africa and several other regions.
The ceremony to transfer the original copy of the diploma of Doctor Emeritus of the Institute of Africa at the USSR Academy of Sciences given to Amilcar Cabral just took place. The diploma was presented to him in 1971 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the struggle for the independence of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands. We went over other chapters of shared history today as well. We are sincerely grateful to our friends from Cabo Verde for valuing our common history and preserving historical memory. As another gesture towards this end, we agreed to consider the possibility of perpetuating the feat of the Byvaly destroyer, which helped detain and bring to justice the murderers of Amilcar Cabral and free his supporters, including the future first President of Cabo Verde, Aristides Pereira. I believe that such an approach, which relies on our common history of fighting for justice, equality and independence, the right of nations to self-determination, the implementation of UN resolutions on decolonisation, has very deep roots in Cabo Verde society and our public opinion. We will do our best to keep it this way.
In closing, I would like to say that we are very satisfied with our relations. We agreed to make our contacts more regular. Mr Minister invited me to visit Cabo Verde. I’m delighted to accept his invitation. We will decide on the time and the substantive part of the visit later.
Question: (addressed to Luis Filipe Tavares): What about the progress of the investigation concerning Russian sailors? What has been established as regards the source and designation of the cocaine consignment?
Sergey Lavrov (adds after Mr Tavares): I would like to express our gratitude to the authorities of Cabo Verde for their work and willingness to cooperate in the objective investigation of the case involving our sailors.
Deputy of the Federal Assembly State Duma Alexei Veller, who is present here, visited Cabo Verde about two weeks ago. The Cabo Verde authorities arranged for him to meet with all the officials he wanted to. He received assurances of the objective character of the investigation. We expect positive results soon. Mr Minister said the authorities of his country would do everything they could for this to happen as soon as possible.
Question: On Sunday, Israel released two Syrians from prison after the remains of an Israeli serviceman were returned from Syria with Russia’s assistance. Does Russia intend to enhance its role in this respect to facilitate the release of other prisoners?
Sergey Lavrov: We always favour an exclusively humanitarian solution to situations like this: the exchange of remains, POWs and detainees in line with the all-for-all principle. We believe this helps promote an atmosphere of trust in conflict areas, whether it’s the Middle East, Nagorno-Karabakh or the southeast of Ukraine. By the way, regarding eastern Ukraine, the all-for-all principle is stipulated in the Minsk agreements. We continue to support the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics that advocate full implementation of this principle without any exceptions. Regrettably, for now, the current Kiev authorities are doing whatever they can to avoid this principle.
Question: Yesterday US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Russia interfered with the US elections back in the 1970s and 1980s and is bound to be doing it in 2050. If this is a routine phenomenon for Washington, what justifies the introduction of new sanctions?
Sergey Lavrov: You quoted Mr Pompeo as saying that we interfered in the US elections in the 1970s and will continue doing it in the 2050s. If he really said this and remembers all these events, he must have gone into politics early – I kind of remember his biography. But the prediction about 2050 apparently points to his intention to stay involved for a long time.
On a serious note, this certainly cannot evoke any positive attitude because the groundless accusations that US foreign policy rhetoric is filled with have never been supported by any evidence. This was again confirmed in the outrageous case of Maria Butina. This was also manifest in the results of the Mueller Commission’s work. Sadly, our American partners, moreover, official representatives of the administration, repeat falsehoods as if reciting a mantra, without bothering to present any facts.
I’ve already recalled as Mr Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson, said he had irrefutable, convincing evidence of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election campaign. When I asked him at a regular meeting to present any relevant evidence since he announced this in public, he said it was not necessary. He added that we know everything ourselves. This is not a serious approach. After all, we are adults and should talk based on facts. When I see Mr Pompeo next time, I hope to talk about this with him.
Question: Yesterday, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that a decision had been made to increase the number of American troops in Poland. Will you please comment on this?
Sergey Lavrov: Any comments are probably redundant here. We don’t feel like repeating the same things. This reflects the US policy of ruining any agreements on ensuring security in the Euro-Atlantic region. In this case we’re talking about the erosion of one of the basic provisions of the Russia-NATO Founding Act, under which any significant number of troops may not be permanently deployed on the territory of the new NATO member countries.
We monitor how relations between Warsaw and Washington are evolving in this regard. As I understand it, they have not yet confirmed that a final agreement has been reached. Let’s see what this will lead to. However, it is clear that although this potential agreement will yield additional benefits from boosting US arms sales, it will hardly enhance security in Europe.
Russia has no plans to attack Poland or any other NATO member country, for that matter. Everyone knows this and everyone understands this perfectly well. However, the countries that desperately try to please Washington by excelling in Russophobic rhetoric will not stop short of taking these types of steps to realise a confrontational approach to security. This does not bode well for anyone. In contrast to them, we speak in favour of using our relations, including the Russia-NATO Council that still exists, to build confidence and reduce, deescalate tensions. We have not seen a positive response from NATO so far, although during contacts with us some NATO members reaffirm that they agree with our approach but they are bound by mutual responsibility, which NATO refers to as consensus. This is sad… Hopefully, the understanding of the futility of approaches like these will, ultimately, make headway.