Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answer to a media question during the joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Zambia Joseph Malanji
Ladies and gentlemen,
My Zambian colleague, Foreign Minister Joseph Malanji, and I have had useful, constructive talks.
We noted that our relations are invariably friendly and are based on the principles of equality and respect for each other’s interests, as well as shared views from the time of the struggle against colonialism and decolonisation under UN auspices.
It was emphasised that our Zambian friends remember our country’s contribution to the establishment of Zambian statehood and training personnel for the country’s key industries. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. We agreed to duly mark this anniversary.
We discussed issues on the bilateral agenda in view of the results of the meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Edgar Lungu which took place in Johannesburg on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in July last year. We have a shared commitment to developing mutually beneficial cooperation in the political, economic, scientific, technological, legal and humanitarian fields. We also considered the prospects of simplifying visa requirements. Our colleagues pointed out Zambia’s good tourism potential. I hope our citizens will be interested.
We agreed to energetically promote the substantial potential of trade and investment cooperation and establish direct contacts between business circles, considering the interest which Russian companies show in cooperation with their Zambian colleagues in agriculture, construction, the supply of machinery and equipment, and information technology.
We spoke positively about the implementation of intergovernmental agreements to cooperate in the use of the nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and to build the Nuclear Science and Technology Centre in Zambia. This is one of the promising projects which could become a driving force of our cooperation.
We are dynamically promoting cooperation in the traditional sphere of educating Zambian students at Russian universities. Later they usually find jobs back home in fields requiring high qualifications. This academic year the Russian government has funded over 140 state scholarships, including 30 scholarships to train experts in the nuclear power industry. Currently 650 Zambian citizens are being trained in Russia.
On international and regional issues we hold shared views on respect for international law, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and their right to choose their own destiny. We agreed to continue maintaining close contacts, above all in the UN, in the interests of examining ways to manage challenges and threats facing all countries today, including terrorism, certainly. We are grateful to our Zambian friends for supporting Russian priorities in the UN.
In turn, we support Zambia and other African countries in the UN, promoting decisions aimed at supporting Africans in the settlement of various conflicts and crises on their continent. It is clear that these conflicts can only be resolved peacefully by political and diplomatic means. We support respective initiatives and approaches of the African Union and sub-regional African states.
On the whole, I believe the talks were quite useful. We expect Zambian representatives at the forums that are to take place in Russia this year, including the International Legal Forum in St Petersburg in May, the International Economic Forum in St Petersburg in June and at some other events. I am sure that their participation in these events will make it possible to flesh out the agreements that are taking shape between us to further advance our relations.
Question: How do you assess US President Donald Trump’s latest threats to the Venezuelan military? Is there a danger of US military interference in Venezuela?
Sergey Lavrov: We are concerned about what is happening with respect to Venezuela. Threats made by the US are actively supported and promoted by the Venezuelan opposition, which is directly encouraging outside interference. This is definitely a violation of the UN Charter and direct interference in that sovereign country’s internal affairs. If you listen to some representatives of the US Administration, you get the impression that diplomacy is completely discounted and all diplomatic propriety has been abandoned. Compared with some of these statements containing direct threats, the Monroe Doctrine looks almost like a paragon of diplomacy.
As for the feasibility of military interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs, even the countries of the region and the European states that joined the chorus demanding an early presidential election and even regime change in Venezuela, are still not willing to allow military interference. I do not know how much this will restrain those politicians in Washington who will stop at nothing to steer the resolution of the problem to their own benefit. We still hope that reason will prevail. There is a proposal under the so-called Montevideo Mechanism which is on the negotiating table now. We very much hope that opposition leader Juan Guaido will respond to initiatives based on inclusive dialogue between all political forces in Venezuela. Seeking victory in the political struggle by provoking an invasion, either direct or disguised as a humanitarian operation, will not bring the result he is expecting. That result can be achieved only through inclusive dialogue, compromise and agreements. Only in that case will it be durable. Any acts of violence will only entrench the problem. I hope that everyone understands this.