24 January 201916:11

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria Abdelkader Messahel, Algiers, January 24, 2019

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Mr Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

First, I would like to express my gratitude to our Algerian friends and personally to Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria Abdelkader Messahel for your warm hospitality.

We had very productive talks.

We highly assessed the level of Russian-Algerian relations in the political, economic, military-technical, cultural, scientific and education spheres and outlined specific avenues for further progress towards the goals that were set out in the Declaration on Strategic Partnership signed in 2001 during President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s visit to Russia.

Trade between our countries exceeded $4.5 billion and continues to grow. We are confident that new solutions which will expand the opportunities for our interaction will be considered at a session of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which will begin next week.

A number of Russian companies are already operating in Algeria. Many want to join corresponding projects with their Algerian partners. Today we agreed to encourage regular direct contact between the business circles of our countries.

We also stressed the importance of coordinating our actions in global energy, including as part of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.

We exchanged views on key international and regional issues. Russia and Algeria are consistent supporters of strict observance of the norms and principles of international law and resolving conflicts exclusively through peaceful means. We stand for the central coordinating role of the UN and respect for the natural desire of nations to decide their own future.

We focused particularly on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Sahara-Sahel region. We covered Syria as well. Russia and Algeria are in favour of resolving the ongoing crisis based of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 with unconditional respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Syria. It is important, in parallel with the completion of the antiterrorist operation against the remaining dispersed militant groups, to focus on improving the humanitarian situation, to create proper conditions for the return of refugees and, of course, to more actively promote the political process. We have informed our Algerian friends about the efforts that Russia is making in this area in conjunction with Turkey and Iran – the guarantor countries of the Astana process – and in close contact with the UN representatives.

When discussing the situation in Libya and Mali, we praised the efforts that Algeria is making to help resolve the crises in these countries. We also considered other crisis situations in this part of the world, in particular, Yemen. Our common position is that, for all these crises, we should not forget about the long-outstanding problems of this region. I mean, first of all, the Middle Eastern settlement and the solution to the Western Sahara problem. In both situations, it is imperative to act on the basis of international law. Such a basis exists, and it is enshrined in UN decisions, primarily in UN Security Council resolutions. We support the implementation of these resolutions.

I’m grateful to my colleague and friend for this opportunity and invite him to Russia for a return visit.

Question: Given the intensive dialogue between the two countries, are you planning to hold a Russian-Algerian summit any time soon and to simplify visa regulations for holders of civil (not official or diplomatic) foreign travel passports, especially with regard to upcoming contacts between businesspeople?

Sergey Lavrov: Contacts are maintained at all levels and, of course, will continue. We will agree on specific schedules after the presidential elections are held in Algeria in the near future, and the new government is formed.

With regard to visa regulations, we have consistently advocated making them less complicated by creating the most favourable conditions for our citizens and the citizens of our partners. We are ready to consider these issues with our Algerian colleagues in the most constructive fashion.

Question: On Wednesday, Juan Guaido, the former leader of the Venezuelan National Assembly, which had earlier been declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Venezuela, declared himself interim President. Several countries, the first of which was the United States, recognised Guaido as president within hours of the announcement. What is Russia’s position on this matter? What would you say about such a prompt positive reaction by a number of countries?

Sergey Lavrov: The Foreign Ministry made a corresponding statement today which outlines our position in detail. For this audience, I will say that this is another gross interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. As you may be aware, there has been more than one attempt to remove Nicolas Maduro from power, including by way of physical elimination.

The fact that the United States and a number of other countries, primarily in that region, immediately recognised the self-proclaimed “interim president,” is a telltale sign that they are directly involved in the artificial creation of a dual power situation, which is fraught with chaos and a major destabilisation of the internal political situation.

This is another confirmation of the fact that the United States, which is paranoid about someone interfering in its election process, without having any evidence on hand, has once again (this is not the first occurrence in recent months; it’s that this time it is an extremely crude job in Venezuela) tried to act as the rulers of the destinies of other nations and interfered with their domestic affairs. There is no need to create any “Mueller Commission” here.

Of course, the signals that are coming from a number of capitals that an armed intervention from outside cannot be ruled out are of particular concern. We strongly urge abandoning such thoughts.

We call upon the Venezuelan opposition, which, I hope, puts the country’s national interests at the forefront, not to become pawns in someone else’s very dirty and criminal game. It is imperative to stay within the constitutional framework and to respect the rights of the Venezuelans to determine their own future. The international community must help create proper conditions for a national dialogue, in which everyone is entitled to express their opinions. However, this should not be done in an atmosphere of violence or calls for the violent toppling of the legitimate government.

In conjunction with other responsible states, we are ready to help create an environment where the Venezuelans will be able to start a dialogue based on their country’s national interests.

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