25 September 202018:50

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the informal meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Moscow, September 25, 2020

1554-25-09-2020

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Mr. Chairman,

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I am thankful to the Romanian side for organizing this meeting today, and, in general, for the effective year-long "crisis management" of the BSEC under severe conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is a welcome development that at this difficult situation we keep intact the tradition of an informal dialogue on the margins of the UN General Assembly sessions, even though it is held via videoconference. Against the backdrop of the UN's 75th anniversary it underlines our commitment to the basic principles of its Charter. We hope that the next UNGA resolution on the ВSEC-UN cooperation will reflect a number of innovative ideas in this regard.

Indeed, there are no doubts about the relevance of the theme of the discussion – overcoming consequences of the pandemic – proposed by the Romanian Chairmanship-in-Office. The disease has posed a drastic challenge to all of us and put under threat the long-term achievements of our countries in accelerating of their social and economic development.

It is only through a joint effort, international solidarity and coordination that we can cope with the complex threats of the pandemic affecting all aspects of people's lives. Optimization of supply chains, fragmentation of international communications and digital transformation of the world economy increase the role of regional cooperation in ensuring the smooth functioning of the key trade centers and preserving transit flows.

Previously, we repeatedly called for strengthening the practical potential of the BSEC in the area of health and epidemiological protection of population and territories. In this regard we share the idea of elaboration of medical protocols to facilitate international transport, trade and tourism. Similar approaches were discussed recently by the Ministers of the Foreign Affairs at the G20. We stand ready to take part in that process in our common region. We are also open for cooperation in the use of the Russian vaccine against coronavirus that was underlined by the Russian President Vladimir Putin in his address to the 75th UN General Assembly.

Since the start of the pandemic Russia has provided assistance in fighting this dangerous disease to 39 countries. The Black Sea Region has been given a special focus. Russian test systems to diagnose the disease were shipped to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova and Serbia.

In the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, measures were taken to intensify the activities of the Council of the Heads of Health and Epidemiological Authorities (more than 12 meetings of the Council have been convened since February this year). The Member States regularly inform each other of recommendations and best practices. In that context, the BSEC comprising countries of both the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union could catalyze the process of consolidation of anti-coronavirus efforts of those integration entities.

Economic cooperation in the Black Sea Region could further gain from business engagement and projects implementation. The Russian 1 mln US dollars contribution to the BSEC has made it obvious. The private sector initiatives that have got the needed finance turned into really promising mechanisms, such as the Black Sea Cuisine brand and region-wide e-commerce platform to be run by the Globalrustrade company. All that have already begun to benefit our citizens, consumers and small and medium enterprises, and to create new sources of income.

Along with fixing the mechanism of rotation-based chairmanships the ВSEC needs to ensure an effective management of its Secretariat. What is required is a fresh innovative approach to addressing the backlog of the problems and added dynamics. A number of countries have nominated their candidates for the post of the BSEC Secretary General. The candidate from Russia is Ambassador Vladimir Zaemskiy, an experienced world-class professional and manager able to give momentum to non-politicized cooperation in the BSEC and increase the relevance of the Organization in the current challenging environment.

We assume that the forthcoming elections will be conducted in a legally impeccable and transparent manner, and in-person at a meeting of the Council before the end of the year in presence of the candidates to provide for their direct communication with the Member States. But before that we should refine the election procedure.

We express the willingness for close collaboration in seeking consensus on all stated issues.

Thank you and take care.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

Council of Europe (CoE)

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

European Union (EU)

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