26 May 202013:23

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a meeting of the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers, Moscow, May 26, 2020

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Colleagues,

I am delighted to see you all. First, I would just like to say a few words as the person chairing this meeting before we go over to the items on our agenda.

It was a very busy month when it comes to contacts. This May we have held fruitful discussions in the format of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers and have met with some of our colleagues within the framework of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers.

It is the very first time that we are holding such a meeting of the CSTO Council of Ministers via videoconference. Of course, this format is a poor substitute for face-to-face communication, but this will not stop us from working in a consolidated manner and efficiently, as we always do.

The coronavirus infection is a serious challenge that has affected the entire system of international relations and every individual state and interstate organisation.  Today we will be analysing the conclusions we must draw from this experience for our organisation. It is quite clear that the CSTO potential can and should be used for responding to such threats in the interests of our citizens’ health and prosperity. This is why we proposed to discuss today the priority measures needed to strengthen our cooperation in the field of biological safety.

The CSTO is playing a key role in maintaining security not only in the zone of its responsibility but also in Eurasia as a whole.

Today we will be discussing the situation in our region and the rest of the world. Our focus is still on military and political tension in Afghanistan.

When it comes to antiterrorism cooperation, the CSTO should continue to work energetically to identify foreign terrorist fighters, especially those who come from the CIS countries. We can provide a reliable barrier against this threat by completing our work in the joint list of designated terrorist organisations.

Another serious threat comes from illicit drug trafficking, primarily the Afghan drug industry, the revenues from which are used to finance terrorism. A major role in combating drugs belongs to the CSTO anti-drug operation Channel. We believe that the geography of this operation should be further expanded and new participants attracted to it.  This year we will review the results of the CSTO Anti-Drug Programme for 2015-2020.

It would be advisable to coordinate the CSTO’s anti-terrorism programmes with the related CIS and SCO projects so as to consolidate their potential in this area.  We are planning to discuss this topic today. We welcome the heads of the CIS and SCO secretariats.

We believe that a regular dialogue should be maintained within the CSTO on the entire range of topics related to Euro-Atlantic security in order to coordinate our approaches with our allies.

Special attention should be given to the task of expanding CSTO peacekeeping potential. Today we will continue to discuss solutions to organisational matters and the improvement of our legal framework. I hope that this will allow CSTO units to take part in UN-led peacekeeping operations.

This is the year of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War. It is gratifying that this date has been widely celebrated in our countries despite the coronavirus, even if in different forms.

I would like to thank our partners for helping to organise a joint virtual exhibition of archival documents and photographs commemorating this date within the CSTO framework. Today we plan to adopt a statement on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Victory. I am deeply grateful to all of you for your contribution to this project.

I hope that you will continue to support our committed joint efforts to implement the priorities of Russia’s chairmanship of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation which were proposed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and approved by your countries’ leadership.

I hope our work today will be fruitful.

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