Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions during the joint news conference following talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria Ramtane Lamamra, Moscow, March 19, 2019
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My colleague and friend, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria Ramtane Lamamra, and I had very productive talks. We have known each other for a long time, dating back to the days when we both worked at the UN.
We are pleased that the Russian Federation was one of the first countries visited by Mr Lamamra after his appointment to the new position of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Our colleague updated us on the developments in Algeria, and shared the plans of his country’s leadership for the near future. We support their undertakings, hoping that they help stabilise the situation in this friendly country through national dialogue and based on Algeria’s Constitution, and of course with due respect by all interested parties for international law and the UN Charter.
Russia has a positive view of interaction between our countries in all areas, including political, trade, economic, investment, military-technical and humanitarian cooperation, in line with the goals stated by our presidents in the 2001 Declaration of Strategic Partnership.
We praised the performance of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation that held a meeting in Moscow in January 2019, as well as the Intergovernmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation that met in Tula in October 2018.
We view international problems through the prism of the need to ensure that all states abide by the principles set forth in the UN Charter, including sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, as well as settling crises through peaceful political and diplomatic means. We emphasised Russia’s unconditional commitment to the right of the people to determine the future of their countries on their own.
It is in this context that we discussed the developments in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the Sahara-Sahel region.
Regarding Syria, we shared information about Russia’s efforts together with Turkey and Iran to facilitate implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, including preparations for launching the political dialogue by setting up a Constitutional Committee.
We also discussed the situation in Libya, Mali and in a number of other countries. We welcomed Algeria’s diplomatic efforts to facilitate national reconciliation in the countries from where threats continue to emanate following NATO’s 2011 adventure, from terrorism and drug trafficking to organised crime and illegal migration.
Russia and Algeria are united in their position regarding the need to step up collective efforts to overcome, within the existing international legal framework, long-standing crises, such as the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Western Sahara conflict. In addition, we are committed to collective action to implement UN Security Council resolutions that have been adopted. We have spoken out against attempts to promote questionable schemes that were developed unilaterally.
All in all, I believe that our talks were quite useful, enabling us to promote our strategic partnership, primarily our foreign policy cooperation between our respective foreign ministries.
Question: Some media are comparing the current events in Algeria to the Arab Spring. Do you think it is possible to draw such parallels?
Sergey Lavrov: As for the similarity of assessments of the events in Algeria and the processes of the Arab Spring, I understand you are referring to the attempts to destabilise the situation from the outside. The beautiful-sounding term “Arab Spring” proved to mean interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, be it Libya or Syria in this case. In this sense I am convinced that the main point was expressed by my colleague and friend in his opening remarks: the people of Algeria will resolve their domestic problems themselves based on the Constitution of their country and with full respect for the norms of international law.
That said, it is very important that all other countries strictly abide by the requirements of the UN Charter, including that interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states is absolutely unacceptable.
As for the role of our relations with Algeria in supporting stability in North Africa, it should be primarily maintained by the countries of the region themselves. We urge them in every possible way to do this.
We are ready to facilitate the efforts of the region’s countries to resolve their problems. I have already spoken about our high assessment of Algeria’s efforts to facilitate settlements in Libya, Mali and some other countries. We have common approaches actually to all persisting problems in this region. We coordinate our actions in the UN and in the framework of the partnerships between Russia and the African Union, and Russia and the Arab League.
We have developed strategic dialogue between our security councils and have functioning working groups on cyber security. Speaking about the contribution to stability in North Africa, I should mention the large-scale and deeply-rooted military-technical cooperation between Russia and the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria.
In addition to the existing mechanisms of cooperation we agreed, as my colleague Ramtane Lamamra announced, to establish a high-level working group that will coordinate our approaches to international issues in general.
Question: Juan Guaido appointed the ambassador to the US from his “government.” What does this mean in the context of international law?
Sergey Lavrov: Ambassadors are appointed by the governments of UN member countries. This is the government of Nicolas Maduro.
Question: US Department of State Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said Russia benefits from NATO’s expansion. By way of example he quoted the prosperity of the Baltic countries neighboring on Russia. These countries enjoy peace and economic progress. What could you say about this statement considering that NATO is a military bloc?
Sergey Lavrov: Leaving aside the fact that Mr Volker keeps making statements on broader issues than reaching a settlement in Ukraine, I can say the following. As I understand, he said Russia derives benefit from the NATO membership of the Baltic states because of their prosperous economies and durable peace. The economic development is revealed by specific statistics showing the basis of economic growth, how the industrial and, generally, the economic foundations of the three Baltic states were established, what influence their current membership in the EU had on their economic progress and how citizens of these countries feel in economic terms.
Speaking about the second part of his statement about how Russia benefits from the enduring peace in the Baltic states, it is necessary to understand what this really means. If by enduring peace they mean Estonia and Latvia's policy of perpetuating statelessness, the ousting of the Russian language from education and virtually all areas of social life in Latvia, regular neo-Nazi processions, support for radical-nationalists and the division of society into radicals, neo-Nazis and anti-fascists, I doubt very much that such a “peace” benefits the Russian Federation.
Moreover, I am convinced that such a “peace” does not benefit Russia or any other state, including the Baltic republics.
As for the notion of benefit, I would like to make a short historical digression. When another stage of NATO’s expansion was being planned in the early 2000s, we asked our Western partners why they were doing this, why they needed to move eastward the dividing lines on our common continent. We were told that the Baltic countries were haunted by historical phobias and security concerns, so by joining NATO, they will calm down and live side by side with us as good neighbours, in peace and friendship.
However, when Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia joined NATO, they not only did not temper their anti-Russian statements and anti-Russian policy but joined the ranks of Russophobic leaders in the West. Now NATO and the European Union largely take their anti-Russian actions based on the position imposed on them by the three Baltic countries. So it would be better if Volker were silent about any benefit for the Russian Federation. We will benefit from a situation that brings all the countries of our common continent together.