Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and responses to media questions during a joint news conference following talks with Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Political Affairs and Justice Nicola Renzi of the Republic of San Marino, March 21, 2019
I would like to thank you once again for the hospitality with which you met our delegation.
Indeed, this is the first official visit of the Foreign Minister of Russia to the Republic of San Marino. As you emphasized, it is timed to the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between our countries. I hope that your visit to the Russian Federation at my invitation that you kindly accepted will also be crowned with specific results.
Today, we signed an important memorandum that will further develop our contractual foundation. We are happy that our relations are making steady headway in all areas without exception. This mutual interest in stepping up the political dialogue is confirmed by my visit to San Marino and your future visit to the Russian Federation at your convenience. This is also reaffirmed by the increasing exchanges between our parliaments, including the recently established Russia-San Marino Friendship Group.
Our trade is not very impressive for now, but it has been growing steadily for several years. We want to maintain and encourage this trend. As we discussed in our talks, this will be facilitated by the participation of the San Marino government and business representatives in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum next June and other investment and economic events in the Russian Federation.
We welcome your interest in promoting humanitarian, tourism and education related contacts. About 150,000 Russian tourists visit San Marino every year. We are interested in seeing this figure grow and will be happy if Sammarinese also choose to spend their holidays in Russia.
We agreed to establish contacts between the University of the Republic of San Marino and a university in Russia, something that will facilitate language exchanges and contacts between teachers and students. We are grateful for the assistance of the San Marino authorities in unveiling a bust of Yury Gagarin at the University of San Marino last autumn.
We respect the pragmatic and balanced foreign policy of the republic and its independent decision-making on international issues. We appreciate that San Marino did not join the unilateral and illegal sanctions against the Russian Federation. This will create additional opportunities for consolidating mutually beneficial and practical cooperation, and we will take advantage of this. Today we discussed various options for expanding our cooperation in marketing agricultural produce in the Russian market and in the banking sphere where we plan to implement many initiatives.
We paid serious attention to the situation in Europe. We agreed to cooperate within the OSCE, including as regards the implementation of decisions on enhancing security and cooperation in the Mediterranean, and on settling the Ukrainian crisis based on the UN Security Council resolution that approved the Minsk agreements.
We spoke about the situation in the Council of Europe that has been hit by a crisis. We share concern over the failure to overcome this crisis for the time being. We believe that the discrimination against Russian deputies in PACE should come to an end. We appreciate the support of our friends from San Marino. We unanimously favour a return to the basic principles of the Charter of the Council of Europe that gives equal right to all members in all agencies of this pan-European organisation.
We discussed a number of other current issues, including those on the UN agenda. We unanimously favour the need to pool efforts in countering terrorism. We value San Marino’s solidarity with Russia. A monument to the victims of the heinous act of terror in Beslan was erected here. I hope I will have an opportunity to visit it today and lay flowers in memory of these victims.
I am very grateful to our friends for organising today’s talks. I know they will allow us to move our relations forward in many important areas.
Question: Recently, Ukraine’s Central Election Committee refused to register 24 Russian citizens for the short-term OSCE monitoring mission during the presidential election. Will Russia consider the election legitimate in this case?
Sergey Lavrov: The problem with the Ukrainian election is known. The refusal of the Ukrainian authorities to give access to Russian observers that have already been endorsed by the OSCE is illegitimate. This was already admitted by OSCE leaders, including those from the ODIHR, which is in charge of monitoring the election.
As for our assessments of this election, we will review the specific results and duly evaluate them.
Question: The banking system of San Marino is in a predicament now. What cooperation can Russia and San Marino conduct in finance and banking?
Sergey Lavrov: We discussed this area of our relations. We know that San Marino reformed its baking sector and tax legislation about a decade ago. Today we discussed the prospects for contacts between the central banks of Russia and San Marino, during which we will be able to coordinate the specific parameters of our cooperation. There are some issues that our Finance Ministry would like to clear up with its colleagues before coming to terms on full-scale cooperation without any restrictions.
I am sure we will find a solution. This won’t take much time.