Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov replies to questions from Channel One Russia following the meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, Moscow, August 25, 2020
Question: What issues were raised at your meeting? Did you discuss the situation in Belarus and the recent meeting with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya?
Sergey Lavrov: Yes, of course, we talked about Belarus. We heard the US confirm its position that it is not interested in creating an artificial crisis around the situation in Belarus. The US emphasised its interest in the efforts of all external players to facilitate a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition. We replied that we support this approach. We do not consider it appropriate to try to impose outside mediators on Belarus, whether it’s the OSCE, the EU or any other neighbouring country. The Belarusians are a wise nation and they can choose the forms of national dialogue themselves and decide how this can help them overcome the current difficulties.
We drew the attention of our partners to the initiative of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, which he made even before the presidential election and then repeated after it. I am referring to the initiative of implementing Constitutional reform as a foundation for consolidating society and the holding of subsequent elections for president, parliament and local government authority. I believe a hand has been extended to all those who are interested in a stable and united Belarus. Of course, this should be considered by the opposition, and our Western partners, that are leading the opposition now.
Question: Did Mr Biegun share with you details of his meeting with Ms Tikhanovskaya? What do you think about their meeting?
Sergey Lavrov: He said the meeting was useful and the US considers it possible for the Tikhanovskaya-led Coordination Council to enter into a dialogue with the leaders of the Republic of Belarus. We replied that we consider it important to let the Belarusians decide themselves who will take part in a national dialogue. We pointed out to Mr Biegun the fact that inside Belarus, including the opposition, there are many questions about the legitimacy of this Coordination Council. Many of its members learned post factum that they were included in it. Nobody consulted them. Some who were included in it have already dropped out. We are eager to understand the political criteria by which this council wants to be guided. There are many conflicting facts on the council’s programme. Ms Tikhanovskaya published very different goals for the council on her website, which were later deleted. The choice of the members of the council raises questions regarding their attitudes towards relations with the Russian Federation.
Question: Are there any signs of fanning anti-Russia hatred by this “tour”?
Sergey Lavrov: There are no objective reasons at all to fan anti-Russia attitudes in the Republic of Belarus. But we are seeing some who want to provoke another round of violence in Belarus. Today we urged Mr Biegun to urge support from the leading Western countries for the positive trends that have been seen in Minsk and other cities in the past week where demonstrations were peaceful and did not provoke law enforcement bodies to respond to some actions by force. We appealed to these countries, primarily the US and the EU, to pay attention to those circles, such as in Poland and Lithuania, that are emphatically expressing their discontent with normalisation in Belarus and are trying to provoke violent actions in order to cause a respective response from law enforcement. We consider such actions dangerous, and I think Mr Biegun heard our serious warnings.