Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answer to a media question at a joint news conference following talks with Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Malta Evarist Bartolo, Sochi, May 25, 2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have held talks with my Maltese colleague, Evarist Bartolo. We are satisfied with the discussion we have had on bilateral relations and their future, as well as plans for our cooperation at multilateral organisations.
We pointed out that our countries are interested in developing bilateral relations in a number of spheres despite the complicated international situation and epidemiological restrictions. There are concrete facts to prove this.
We welcomed our active joint efforts to strengthen the legal framework of our relations. A number of interdepartmental memorandums in culture, sports, youth policy and healthcare are ready for signing.
We have agreed to promote the implementation of our plans when it comes to interparliamentary contacts. We will help boost our trade and economic ties, including by redoubling the efforts of the concerned agencies, economic operators and Russian regions. The Krasnodar Territory, Kemerovo and the Kaluga Region have displayed an interest in the establishment of partner relations with Malta, including in the field of the economy.
We noted Malta’s efforts to adjust the national legislation, including in the sphere of taxation, to the requirements of international financial regulators. It is gratifying that our partners have ratified the protocol amending the bilateral Convention on Avoiding Dual Taxation. This will benefit the legal regulation of relations between our countries in this sphere.
We also talked about joining efforts against the coronavirus pandemic.
We called for the gradual relaunching of tourist exchanges, including in light of the resumption of regular Aeroflot flights to Malta starting today.
We also covered international affairs as well. Russia values Malta’s neutral status formalised in its 1987 Constitution, and a peaceful, pragmatic, responsible and balanced foreign policy of the Valetta government.
We talked about Russia-EU relations, which are going through hard times following the decisions adopted in Brussels in 2014 to undermine the architecture of our interaction. We have reaffirmed our willingness to restore cooperation with the EU if it acts on the basis of mutual respect and parity without trying to enforce any unilateral preconditions on us.
We exchanged views on the developments in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa, including Libya and the Syrian settlement. We briefed our colleagues on the striving of Russia, Turkey and Iran, acting within the Astana format, to promote agreements on overcoming the crisis in Syria.
We also discussed our interaction in the UN, the Council of Europe and the CSTO, including on the topics of Russia’s initiatives submitted to these organisations. Our Maltese colleagues showed particular interest in the possibility of cooperation in the field of information security. We really hope that the relevant agencies of our countries will establish contact and analyse the opportunities available in this sphere.
We have agreed to maintain dialogue between our foreign ministries and to coordinate the timeframe of the next round of consultations to be held at the level of deputy foreign ministers and department directors.
I would like to thank my colleague for these fruitful talks.
Question: How are preparations for the possible meeting between the presidents of Russia and the United States coming along? The Kremlin has just stated that they will announce their decision soon and that one of the topics likely to be addressed at these negotiations will be arms control and generally stability issues. What other matters, as you see it, can and must we discuss with the United States?
How would you comment on the results of yesterday’s Geneva meeting between Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan? After all, Geneva has been named as one of the most likely venues for the Russian-US summit.
Sergey Lavrov: The conversation yesterday between Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and US Presidential National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan covered the entire spectrum of our relations, the same as my talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Iceland a week before that.
In both cases, the conversations were frank, with the parties avoiding glossing over our serious and deep differences on the majority of international problems as well as on bilateral issues.
I believe the manner in which the US side presented its position was respectful and allows us to hope that establishing a serious and concrete dialogue on practical, not feigned, problems, common threats and risks will enable us to count (if both sides make efforts) on the removal of certain irritants. This will be neither quick nor easy.
As it was said on many occasions, we positively view US President Joe Biden’s proposal to hold a summit. You have quoted the Kremlin’s statement. The wait will not be long. Our final position will be announced shortly.