Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to media questions following the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Nagoya, Japan, November 23, 2019
The G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting is coming to an end. We have discussed problems of global governance, which needs to be improved considering all the issues that have accumulated in the global economy and the world trade system. In this regard, the G20 is an optimal format, which has been proved by today's discussions. Represented here are member states of the BRICS, the G7, as well as other countries that provide for the modern world's civilisational diversity.
This is not easy work, but nevertheless it helps to proactively bring up issues for discussion and seek universally accepted approaches to the problems that will be addressed through international laws by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organisation. The issues of free global trade system have particular importance during discussions, given the increasing protectionism, trade wars, and many other aspects that have yet to be settled.
The second set of questions was related to the sustainable development goals adopted by the UN General Assembly. They are setting the pace for cooperating in battling poverty, ensuring food security, addressing the issues of industrialisation in the digital era, and many other matters of immediate interest for developing and other countries.
The third set of questions, which logically follows from the second one, concerns Africa's role in today's world both in the context of its immense economic potential, which is far from exhausted, and the facilitation of solutions to numerous persisting conflicts and crises on the African continent that hinder the development of its resources for the benefit of African nations and the global economy.
We presented Russia's stance on all these issues. As regards African affairs, we particularly emphasised the need to avoid imposing any external solutions on the African people, including conflicts settlement solutions, and stressed the importance of following the 'African solutions to African problems' approach. This once again was emphasised by President of Russia Vladimir Putin at the first Russia-Africa Summit, which took place in Sochi a month ago. We will adhere to this policy and will take efforts to support the African Union and the continent's sub-regional organisations in their perspective on solutions to African issues.
Question: Prior to your meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi yesterday, Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan Yoshihide Suga reaffirmed the previous stance on Japan's readiness to conclude a peace treaty with Russia after the settlement of the territorial dispute. To what extent do you think it is acceptable to link the territorial dispute with the peace treaty?
Sergey Lavrov: With all respect for Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, we still abide by the agreements reached at the highest level by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, who agreed to make progress in discussing the remaining problems based on the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, which clearly states that our country's territorial integrity and sovereignty over all of its territories, including the Southern Kurils, must first be recognised, which is effectively a recognition of the WWII results, and after that all the remaining issues can be discussed.
Question: Which issues did you discuss with John J. Sullivan?
Sergey Lavrov: John J. Sullivan is heading the US delegation at the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. We discussed the role of this forum in international relations and reaffirmed our support; it serves everyone's interests and creates an efficient platform for reaching generally acceptable agreements. Of course, we know that Mr Sullivan has been nominated for the post of US Ambassador to Russia. We spoke about ways to solve numerous issues that have accumulated in our relations, especially since in his current post Mr Sullivan headed the US delegation at the talks on strategic stability with Russia. Our conversation was productive.
Question: Obviously, the United States has lately made efforts to influence and support protests in different parts of the world, such as Latin America, Iran and Hong Kong. The US also continues to assert its influence in Asia-Pacific region. Do Russia and Japan share stances on the role the US has assumed?
Sergey Lavrov: As to the issues related to the US line of conduct in the world, including in Asia-Pacific region, the country openly states that Russia and China are the major threat to it, and all its military alliances with Japan, Australia and the Republic of Korea will be developed based on these threats and challenges. At the meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi yesterday, we draw attention to the fact that this contradicts the assurances Japan has made regarding the Japan-US military and political alliance not being directed at our country. We will continue the dialogue. Soon, in December, Mr Toshimitsu Motegi will make his first visit to Russia in his capacity as foreign minister. This issue will definitely be a key focus of our discussions.
Question: Russia seems to raise the issue of international security and the arms race more often than other countries. Is this question discussed by the G20? Are there any tools Russia can use to influence the international community through this forum to solve this issue?
Sergey Lavrov: This issue is not part of the G20 agenda, although the host country can offer any questions for the foreign minister's meetings. This year, these issues were not included on the G20 agenda. They are principal for our dialogue with the United States, as well as with European and Asia-Pacific countries, particularly given the US intention, after it pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, to deploy short and medium-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region, which it has clearly stated. Although our colleagues from Japan and the Republic of Korea claim that Americans have no such intention and they received no such requests, Washington openly talks about these plans. Therefore, we must be guided by the facts at our disposal.
Question: To what extent does the US military presence hinder a peace treaty between Russia and Japan? Are we making progress due to joint economic activity on the Kuril Islands and the cultural aspects, with Japanese travelling there to visit their ancestors' gravesites?
Sergey Lavrov: The military alliance with the US is certainly an issue preventing the Russia-Japan relations from reaching a new level. To remind you, back when the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956 was being coordinated, the Soviet Union stated that the document could be fully implemented only in the context of the US withdrawal of its military presence on Japan's territory. We passed on to our Japanese colleagues both through the Foreign Ministry and the Security Council a list of Russia's specific concerns regarding our own security that arise in connection with the existence, constant development and strengthening of the Japanese-US military and political alliance. Our Japanese colleagues promised to respond to these concerns. We are waiting for their response and will continue the discussion.
As for the joint economic activity, it has made good progress. First of all, there is progress in such projects as developing advanced waste processing facilities and organising special tours to the Southern Kurils. These are not breakthrough areas; they are not strategic for the development of our economic relations. Russia and Japan have many major projects, including those on Sakhalin Island. The Japanese are seeking to take part in expanding Sakhalin-based projects, Arctic LNG 2, and other initiatives. We would like to see a greater involvement of our Japanese colleagues in hi-tech cooperation. There is progress in healthcare, primarily in developing hi-tech cancer centres, which we mentioned yesterday as well. We will continue taking practical steps to implement the agreements reached by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. As you know, Shinzo Abe put forward an eight-point cooperation plan. In turn, we submitted a list of priority projects for our Japanese colleagues to consider. These two documents are currently the basis for everything we do, including our joint economic activity in the Southern Kurils.