Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions during a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay Francisco Bustillo Bonasso, Moscow, December 1, 2020
Ladies and gentlemen,
The talks with Minister of Foreign Relations of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay Francisco Bustillo Bonasso were held in a trust-based atmosphere and were very substantive. Our colleague has come to Moscow on one of his first working trips in the capacity of the Foreign Minister of Uruguay after assuming office in July 2020. I would like to use this occasion to wish him every success in this responsible position to the benefit of his country and the Latin American region as a whole.
We are delighted that relations between our countries continue to develop dynamically even amid the global pandemic, which has had its impact on the bilateral and multilateral agenda. We discussed prospects for the further development of our interaction based on the experience of our long-standing ties. Our diplomatic relations were established 163 years ago and we will celebrate this date on December 10 of this year.
We spoke about the importance of strengthening interdepartmental cooperation in a variety of spheres. We assign a special role to the Russian-Uruguayan Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. We discussed investments by many Russian companies in the Uruguayan economy, industry, transport, pharmaceutics and energy. We discussed our plans for promoting this promising form of interaction.
We expressed appreciation for the standards of the legal framework underlying our ties. A number of agreements have been signed recently between our defence ministries and security councils, as well as in sports. We mentioned several other documents the coordination of which has entered the final stage, including an agreement on the system of preferences between Uruguay and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), an agreement on patent protection, an agreement between our law enforcement agencies on combating organised crime, and documents on intellectual property. A working group on military technical cooperation is functioning within the framework of the Commission.
We pointed out our interest in developing cultural and humanitarian ties, which have been given a powerful impetus by the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay on Conditions for Waiving Visa Formalities for Mutual Visits by Both Countries’ Citizens, signed in 2011. Francisco Bustillo Bonasso worked in the tourism industry for a long time, and so our common interests in this sector can be promoted by his professional knowledge of the methods of achieving this. The University of the Republic, where the Russian language is one of the subjects taught, maintains close ties with several Russian universities. We appreciate our partners’ support for these programmes and projects. There is a large and active Russian diaspora in Uruguay. These descendants of immigrants both from the Russian Empire and the Russian Federation are contributing to the strengthening of the Uruguayan state and economic development. We believe that this link between us can play a vital role in strengthening people-to-people contacts.
In my opinion, our talks on the bilateral agenda have shown that there is considerable potential for building up our partnership in many spheres. A decision was made the other day to appoint a new Russian Ambassador to Uruguay. A decision to appoint a new Uruguayan Ambassador to Russia will be made soon. And the newly appointed ambassadors will assume their offices simultaneously. There is no doubt that they will be able to do a great deal to the benefit of bilateral relations.
We exchanged views on international matters and noted the similarity of our approaches to strengthening international law and the main role of the UN, based on respect for its Charter. We agree that all and every problem should be settled through political and diplomatic means, without unilateral sanctions, ultimatums or interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
We spoke about regional interaction in Latin America and the Caribbean. We welcome Uruguay’s efforts to promote integration processes in Latin America, including in its capacity as the temporary president of MERCOSUR in the second half of 2020. We exchanged opinions on ways to develop cooperation between regional associations, in which Russia and Uruguay participate, in our region and in Latin America.
I believe that our talks were well timed and productive. I would like to thank my colleague for our trust-based, practical and forward-looking conversation.
Question (for both ministers): We know that the epidemiological situation with the coronavirus in Uruguay has been worsening. Could your visit to Russia pave the way to accessing the Sputnik V vaccine? Do you intend to hold talks in Russia on obtaining this vaccine?
A parliamentary election is scheduled to take place in Venezuela on December 6 under complicated conditions. This country is under sanctions imposed by the United States. Will the State Duma of the Russian Federation send its observers to Venezuela to monitor the parliamentary election?
Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Francisco Carlos Bustillo Bonasso): I would like to say a few words on the first question. We discussed our respective statistical data today, and there is no reason for us to believe that the situation with COVID-19 is challenging in Uruguay. The numbers are quite low actually, which suggests that the measures taken by the government of Uruguay to prevent the spread of the disease have been effective: there were fewer than 6,000 infections throughout the pandemic.
We also talked about the ongoing research in the context of vaccine development, and shared information on the two vaccines that have already been registered in Russia and the third one, which is in the pipeline. We also discussed contacts with other Latin American countries regarding Sputnik V, including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru. Our Uruguayan friends know what this vaccine is all about and what it can do. Uruguayan Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo Bonasso said that the decision will be taken by comparing the specifics of the available offers.
As for the Venezuelan election, you said that the situation there is complicated. I believe that it is much more straightforward, rather than complicated, compared to many other countries which pretend to be developed democracies. During preparations for the election (I visited Venezuela several months ago and met with opposition representatives, among others), the Venezuelan leadership went to great lengths in its efforts to promote national dialogue and invited all opposition forces to participate. I believe that this will be a competitive and well-organised election. It is my great hope that those who will be monitoring the election in Venezuela from abroad will accept its objective results instead of subordinating their assessment of the vote to their foreign policy and geopolitical preferences.
The Russian Federation will send a group of observers to monitor the election. I am certain that observers from other countries will also be there. Thanks to their presence, the international community will have an objective assessment of the election.