Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a meeting with representatives of the Venezuelan National Dialogue Roundtable, Caracas, February 7, 2020
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for inviting me to speak at the National Dialogue Roundtable. It is the only effective format of talks between the Government and opposition in Venezuela. Regrettably, all the other formats have failed because of the ultimatums presented by the radical part of the opposition, which, as far as we can see, cares more about its own ambitions than about the future of their country and people.
It is a great honour for me to take part in this event, which is proof of the high level of mutual trust between our states.
Venezuela is a long-time partner of Russia in Latin America and the world as a whole. We are impressed by your country’s independent position on the international stage. We would like Venezuela, just as any other country, to be independent, politically stable and economically successful.
Regrettably, the ongoing crisis in and around Venezuela is rooted in the large-scale campaign launched to overturn the legitimate Government with the use of all available options, including military force, as the campaign’s organisers say. We consider such scenarios completely unacceptable. We will work consistently to ensure that they are condemned by the international community. We are acting in this spirit in our contacts with the United States, as well as at the UN Security Council. We insist that everyone must honour their international obligations under the UN Charter, which stipulate, in particular, a peaceful settlement of disputes and avoidance of the use or threat of force, as well as interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
We condemn the illegitimate methods of financial and economic pressure being used against Venezuela. I am referring to the sanctions and the attempts of extra-territorial application of national legislation. These restrictions and totally illegitimate external pressure are the main causes of the economic recession in Venezuela.
The obvious objective is to foster discontent and provoke social unrest by blocking the operations of the financial, oil and gold producing sectors of the Venezuelan economy. It is obvious that these sanctions affect above all the ordinary people regardless of their political affiliations. It is especially disgraceful that the unilateral US sanctions are having a negative impact on the implementation of social and humanitarian projects. A glaring example of the consequences of the recent banking restrictions is the blocking of the treatment programme for cancer patients carried out through a joint Venezuelan-Spanish project.
We have no doubt that the lifting of sanctions as soon as possible is a key priority for all patriotic Venezuelans. I am sure that the participants of this roundtable are keenly focused on this topic.
Our position of principle is that any crisis, including the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, can only be settled with political and diplomatic methods, through an inclusive dialogue of the Venezuelans and with due regard for the positive achievements of previous negotiations. We noticed that this roundtable has helped to coordinate a number of practical solutions. You have coordinated ways to return to the constitutional framework, overcome the split and resume the work of Socialist deputies at the National Assembly. There is no doubt that the regular amnesties, the renewal of the National Electoral Council and discussions on economic reforms are accepted with sympathy by the Venezuelan people, who clearly have had enough of confrontation and call for street protests and foreign interventions. It is very important that unlike the other negotiating formats, your roundtable is truly inclusive, because it is open to any political parties, as I have been told and as we can see from our contacts.
This has obviously provoked the wrath of the Government’s radical opponents and their foreign sponsors, who are trying to discredit your dialogue. But I believe that they will not succeed. President of Russia Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with President Nicolas Maduro on September 25, 2019 that we consider any refusal to maintain dialogue as something irrational, detrimental to the country and jeopardising the well-being of the Venezuelan people.
We believe that the ambitions of certain politicians must not be allowed to dominate the interests of society as a whole. We also hope that, as you agreed, you will pursue a common approach towards the coordination of the new format of the National Electoral Council and towards preparations for the 2020 election to the National Assembly. I am sure that this election is the only opportunity for the Venezuelan radicals to avoid a political demise. The election is their chance to return to the civilised framework and to take part in the public judgement of the country’s political forces. Only the people can decide whether politicians can meet the expectations of the country and all its citizens.
I would like to conclude my address with a quote from a great Venezuelan, the Liberator Simon Bolivar, who said that only the people know what will benefit them, and the people alone are the masters of their fate, not any rulers or factions. “Only the majority is sovereign,” he said. These are great words, and I am sure that they are applicable to any country, any nation and any period in history.
Russia is ready to provide all-round assistance to you work. I can assure you that if our support is needed in any way or form, we will not hesitate.
Once again, thank you for the invitation. I would like to wish you all the best in your noble efforts.