Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a joint meeting of the collegiums of the Foreign Ministry of Russia and the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Belarus, Moscow, November 18, 2019
Welcome to a joint meeting of the collegiums of the foreign ministries of Russia and the Republic of Belarus.
This meeting is taking place in the year that marks the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus. Twenty years ago, guided by the fundamental interests of the two peoples, our leaders decided to take Russian-Belarusian relations to a new level. Experience has shown that it was the right decision. Today, Russia and Belarus are close allies and strategic partners. Along with the EAEU, the Union State is at the forefront of integration processes unfolding within our common space.
The key goals of the Union State include conducting coordinated foreign policy. Two-year programmes of concerted foreign policy actions of the states parties to the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State have been adopted by the Supreme State Council since 2000. They have proven themselves an effective tool for coordinating actions in the international arena and developing common approaches to global and regional issues. Reviewing the draft Programme for 2020-2021 is one of the main items on our agenda today.
Our countries support each other's initiatives at the UN, the OSCE and other international organisations. They co-sponsor draft resolutions and decisions, jointly uphold our common interests, oppose attempts to promote, at multilateral platforms, approaches that infringe on the legitimate rights and interests of Russia and Belarus and violate the fundamental principles of international law, primarily, the UN Charter, and European security commitments. In this context, we have agreed to consider the developments in the Euro-Atlantic space today. We are concerned about NATO’s continuing policy of moving its military infrastructure closer to our borders and the intensified NATO military activity near our states. We proceed from the precept that these processes must be considered in the context of the OSCE countries’ commitment not to strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other states.
One more issue on the current agenda has to do with strategic stability, non-proliferation and arms control. The processes underway in these areas have a direct impact on the national interests of Russia and Belarus. We are worried about the deepening crisis in arms control. I am referring to the US decision to erode the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) after withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. As you know, Russia’s proposals designed to ensure the viability of this treaty have been rejected. And now the future of the New START Treaty has been put in question as well. In addition, the United States has refused to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), added to its doctrines the possibility of lowering the nuclear threshold and plans to deploy offensive weapons in outer space. It should be said that our Western colleagues’ activities are undermining the fundamental principles of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which is deepening the crisis in the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
In this context, we should strengthen our interaction across the entire range of these problems in the interests of preventing negative trends in the field of strategic stability. We have agreed to discuss all these subjects today as well.
Another item on this meeting’s agenda concerns the use by a number of our Western colleagues, primarily the US and the EU, of illegitimate tools such as unilateral sanctions in violation of the UN Charter. This practice seriously undermines global trust and understanding. I would like to emphasise that, even as Russia and Belarus discuss at international platforms these sensitive problems and negative phenomena, which cause serious tension in multilateral formats and in bilateral relations with third countries, they always focus on possible constructive solutions rather than on negative scenarios, on solutions that would help us reverse these processes, which have a very negative effect on the state of affairs in our common region and in international affairs in general. I shall note that our colleagues who drafted the decision for today's meeting were relying on this position and have formulated approaches that will help us promote a unifying rather than a disconnecting agenda. This is our common interest in relation to the processes taking place in the European region.
I am confident that today’s meeting will take place in a friendly atmosphere, and we will discuss our objectives substantively in the field of concerted foreign policy efforts and reach agreements that will strengthen our cooperation and alliance in international affairs.