Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov`s interview to the National Institute of Information of Suriname, September 11, 2019
Question: The relations with Suriname have seen a new dynamism in the recent years. Can you please elaborate on the importance that you attach to this historic visit to Suriname, against the background of Russia’s intentions to revitalize relations with the countries in the Caribbean Region?
Sergey Lavrov: It is true, the relations between Suriname and Russia have gained new momentum in the recent years. A number of landmark events contributed to it: the first-ever visit of Yildiz Pollack-Beighle, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Suriname, to Russia in October 2017, and the signing of two fundamental instruments establishing framework for our bilateral cooperation; I refer to the Agreement on Basic Principles of Relations and the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Conditions for Waiving Visa Formalities in the Mutual Visits of the Citizens of our countries.
We regard Suriname as an important partner in developing multifaceted cooperation with the States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). We aim at enhancing cooperation with this subregion in such priority areas as facilitating sustainable development, providing assistance in disaster response, training of diplomatic, law-enforcement, and emergency services officials of the Caribbean States, increasing educational, tourist, cultural, humanitarian and sport exchanges, promoting economic initiatives.
This approach was also reaffirmed during my recent visit to Paramaribo, where we discussed in detail promising joint projects in the areas mentioned. Now it is our common goal to implement the agreements that we reached. Russian ministries and agencies have already been actively working on this.
I note with satisfaction that our countries are working closely at the multilateral fora, primarily the UN. For our part, we are ready to expand our foreign policy coordination based on international law.
Question: You have recently attended a BRICS meeting in Brazil. Can you share your views on the developments within BRICS and the impact of this partnership, bearing the mind the changing geopolitical landscape?
Sergey Lavrov: While world politics and economy are getting increasingly turbulent, BRICS remains an example of how the multilateral cooperation should be organized based on the principles of mutual respect of interests and making important joint decisions by consensus.
The full-scale meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Rio de Janeiro on July 26, 2019 became a clear embodiment of such a vision. We had a most candid discussion of the pressing issues on the global and regional agenda. Those demonstrated the convergence or proximity of the five countries’ approaches to s wide range of issues pertaining to maintenance of international peace and security. We supported strengthening coordination at the key multilateral fora — the UN, G20, WTO. We also agreed to enhance joint efforts to counter terrorism and transnational organized crime, and efforts in the area of international information security.
Strengthening strategic partnership with the BRICS countries is one of Russia's foreign policy priorities. In this regard it is encouraging that the dialogue within BRICS has gained very good momentum in the recent years. Since BRICS was established — and this year the 11th BRICS summit is to be held by the Brazilian chairmanship — the five States have become a major pillar of the emerging fairer and more democratic polycentric world order. The BRICS countries are firmly committed to the key principles and norms of international law. We consistently oppose any unilateral actions not supported by the UN Security Council, including interference in internal affairs, or sanctions. All members agree that there is no alternative to political and diplomatic settlement of conflicts. We concur that it is necessary to adopt rules of responsible behavior of States in the information sphere, and to introduce a legally binding regime prohibiting the weaponization of outer space.
Economy continues to be an integral element of partnership – especially as today the combined economic power of BRICS has surpassed that of the G7. The New Development Bank has been functioning successfully, it has approved investment projects with a total cost of over 10 billion USD. The Contingent Reserve Arrangement intended to contribute to maintaining financial stability of the BRICS countries, has been operating efficiently.
Cultural and humanitarian cooperation, people-to-people contacts are on the rise. A lot of events are planned for this year. I will only mention the International Biennial of Contemporary Art to open at the end of September in Curitiba, Brazil, which has already become a good tradition, and BRICS Academic Forum to be held on September 11-12 in Brasília.
I am positive that BRICS Summit on November 13-14 will become an important milestone in promoting the cooperation between the five countries in all three major areas of strategic partnership — political, economic, and humanitarian.
Question: Our countries are geographically far apart, and yet we share as mentioned by you on several occasions during your visit to Suriname, important internationally accepted principles, in our efforts to resolve regional and global matters of concern. How do you view Russia’s role in contributing to the regional discourse and maintaining the Latin American and Caribbean region a Zone of Peace?
Sergey Lavrov: You are absolutely right, cooperation between Russia and Latin America is based on similar approaches to foreign policy that rely on respect for national sovereignty, commitment to international law, and the central and coordinating role of the UN in global affairs.
Russia does not view the region of Latin America and the Caribbean from the perspective of geopolitical zero-sum games. Our dialogue is not aimed against any third countries. Cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean is an intrinsically valuable area of Russian foreign policy, and we strive to make it pragmatic and free from any ideological biases.
Unfortunately, Latin America and the Caribbean now find themselves under serious pressure. We are deeply concerned over the U.S. attempts to rewire Latin American political landscape for its own needs, in the spirit of the revived Monroe doctrine. What Washington has done is to usurp the right to use force where it sees fit based on its own assumptions in order to overthrow governments it is not satisfied with for whatever reason.
We constantly underline that such actions by U.S. Administration disrupt the foundations of regional security and stability, lead to the polarization of Latin American societies, and run counter to establishing a zone of peace in Latin America, as stated in the Declaration of Havana adopted at CELAC Summit in January 2014.
Russia has consistently advocated a politically united and economically stable Latin America – only under this condition the region will be able to assert itself as one of the pillars of multi-polar world order. We aim to work collaboratively with everyone who shares our approaches in order to maintain peace and stability in Latin America and the Caribbean. Such cooperation is facilitated by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (the Treaty of Tlatelolco) — the first international instrument that makes an entire region a nuclear-free zone. We are ready for further fruitful cooperation with our Latin American partners on strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime.