6 May 201122:21

Transcript of Remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Response to Media Question at Joint Press Conference Following Meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Moscow, May 6, 2011


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Dear Chinese and Russian journalists and colleagues,

Once again I would like to welcome my good friend, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China Yang Jiechi, who is on an official visit to Russia. In keeping with established practice, we hold such visits every year and devote most of our attention to the preparation for another summit between the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the People's Republic of China.

Contacts at the highest level are regular. The President of the Russian Federation was in China just last month, where he took part in the BRICS summit and in the Boao Forum as the principal guest. We expect the President of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Hu Jintao, to visit the Russian Federation soon, who – in addition to the bilateral program – will attend the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

We have examined the progress in preparing for the next summit contact today. This year is an especially significant year for us as we celebrate ten years of the Treaty of Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. At the level of ministers of foreign affairs we agreed on a plan of commemorative events for this anniversary and arranged to implement it fully.

The mechanism of Russia-China ties and of Russia-China strategic interaction and partnership covers annual meetings at other levels as well. Regular contacts at Head of Government level are to be held this year, alongside those between leaders of sectoral intergovernmental economics, energy and humanitarian commissions, between senior officials of the parliaments of our two countries and under the auspices of security and public councils in the most diverse formats.

Our partnership rests upon a very sound basis. It's first and foremost the broad commonality of our long-term strategic interests, mutual trust and the close and good-neighborly practical cooperation in all fields, and hence our ability to interact most effectively in the international arena and coordinate our approaches to key global and regional problems. We have exchanged views on a whole array of cooperation areas in the foreign policy realm today, including participation in the BRICS and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), our close collaboration on the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem and on the Iranian nuclear program, and cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, particularly with regard to the debate going on around UN reform.

We certainly did not ignore the situation that is evolving in the Middle East and North Africa. This situation is a great concern for us both – Russia and China. It is fraught with grave global upheavals. We have agreed, using the possibilities of our two states, to coordinate our actions in order to facilitate speedy stabilization of the situation, and the prevention of continuation of negative, unpredictable consequences. At the base of our joint position lies the principle according to which each people must themselves, without outside interference, determine their future. This is, in fact, a principle that is applicable to any area of the world and which is embedded, by the way, in the Charter of the United Nations.

I generally assess the outcome of today's talks very positively and look forward to continuing contacts with my Chinese counterpart, more specifically at the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in just a week from now.

Question: Sergey Viktorovich, we currently see an obvious unanimity on Libya between Russia and China. But concretely speaking, if the question comes up of voting on a new resolution that envisions the possibility of a ground operation in Libya, then can we expect the same kind of unanimity from our two countries on this issue as well? An "invitation" was orally made recently by the French Foreign Minister – you can call it that – for Russia to join and thus enlarge the international contact group on Libya. What do you make of this?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: With regard to possible proposals to authorize through the Security Council a ground operation in Libya, resolution 1973, which the Security Council has already passed, explicitly and unambiguously excludes such a possibility and this position of the Russian Federation remains absolutely unchanged.

As for the contact group, this self-created structure is now increasingly trying to take upon itself the primary role in determining the international community's policy toward Libya, and not only. Voices are already being heard in favor of this same entity also deciding upon what to do in respect of other states of the region. In this connection I would like to stress once again that in passing its resolutions, the Security Council alone can exercise political control over their implementation; it alone can determine subsequent policies on specific issues. The Security Council has these powers under the Charter of the United Nations, and it has not delegated them to the contact group or whomever else.

Recently the Security Council examined the report of the UN Secretary General's special envoy to Libya and the initiatives with which the African Union had come up. Following this debate an overwhelming majority spoke out for the necessity of an early ceasefire and in favor of putting the situation on a political footing with the aim of agreeing between the Libyan sides upon the processes and pace of settlement and upon the conduct of overdue reforms. It is these objectives that are formulated as the principal objectives in resolution 1973 and this was why we did not object to the adoption of this resolution. We presume that these objectives – a peaceful settlement – must be the focus of the efforts by all those who can assist this, rather than supporting one of the parties in what is essentially an internal armed conflict; that is, in a civil war. So we presume that the informal contact group does consist of responsible states, and that they have all ratified the UN Charter and are duty bound to respect the powers of the Security Council.

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