30 March 201011:14

Transcript of Response to Questions from Russian Media by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov Following Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Ocean Coastal States, Chelsea, Canada, March 29, 2010


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Question: What are the outcomes of the meeting of the "Arctic Quintet"?

Lavrov: The main conclusion after this meeting of the five Arctic Ocean coastal states is that the "Quintet" has every right to exist as an informal arrangement under which the five states discuss issues relating to their special responsibility for the state of affairs in the region, particularly from the vantage point of the environment and other questions, including search and rescue. This does not mean that the Arctic Council, broader in composition and including Sweden, Finland and Iceland, is somehow restricted. Certainly not. It is the Arctic Council that prepares documents which have official, and hopefully will have international legal significance regarding the maintenance and functioning of the environmental system, the safety of navigation and many other questions in the future. But the Arctic Quintet, the countries with coastlines on the Arctic Ocean and a continental shelf, bears a special responsibility.

The main conclusion from the discussion today is that we certainly have confirmed the declaration that we adopted just over two years ago in Greenland (Illulisat), which clearly states that any issues that exist in this region can and must be solved by peaceful means. Any overlapping claims in respect of any sites that are outside of the continental shelf must be resolved solely on the basis of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The five coastal states have demonstrated that they are able to ensure that through their efforts this area is peaceful, calm and clean. I think that this format will continue to be in demand in parallel with the strengthening of the Arctic Council, in favor of which we all stand.

I informed my colleagues, and they responded with great interest, about the meeting of the Russian Security Council which President Dmitry Medvedev conducted on March 17 on Arctic development and about an upcoming International Conference on cooperation in the region to be held in Moscow on April 22-23 under the auspices of the Russian Geographical Society, the Board of Trustees of which is headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The results of today's event are concrete, positive and constructive, aimed at developing interaction, and there will be no confrontation here, everybody has emphasized this.

Question: Do you intend to touch upon the theme of the Moscow terrorist attacks within the framework of the G8 discussion on the problems of terrorism?

Lavrov: Already, members of the ministerial meeting of the Group of Eight endorsed a joint statement in connection with the terrorist attacks in Moscow. It contains a sharp condemnation of the incident, an expression of solidarity and support to the Russian people and the Russian leadership, and reaffirms the determination to build up international efforts to combat international terrorism. I think that those documents which, in addition to a special statement, the G8 is to release will also contain quite a few important decisions on this subject.

Question: In the course of your communication with your foreign colleagues did you feel their sincere support over the events in Moscow?

Lavrov: Yes, I have no reason to suspect someone of insincerity at this moment. I think it's all reciprocal: such a calamity befalls not only Russia; there were acts of terrorism in other countries as well, including in G8 countries. I believe the solidarity and willingness to help are absolutely sincere.

Question: Earlier, you mentioned that the terrorist attacks in Moscow are a matter of a global terrorist network, and that we must all fight this together. How can international efforts help in the investigation of these two terrorist attacks?

Lavrov: I will not intrude into the sphere of activity of the special services and investigative agencies that are dealing with it. They have their partner channels. If there is the slightest need for them to be used, they will be used.

I am convinced that those who planned, organized, and paid for these terrorist acts will not escape punishment.

Question: You do not rule out that these terrorist attacks were carried out with support from abroad?

Lavrov: I do not exclude that. Nothing can be excluded. We well know that on the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan, traditionally viewed as "no man's land," the terrorist underground has very actively entrenched themselves. We know that they there plan many terrorist attacks not only directly in Afghanistan and surrounding countries, but also in Central Asia. Sometimes the trails lead to the Caucasus. So you have to take all of this into account. This is another proof of the need to stop taking the importance of coordinated joint efforts lightly. I think that we will now pay special attention to practical efforts to implement international conventions, the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and individual decisions on some or other areas. I am convinced that the sources of terrorism financing require special attention. One such source is the drug trade.

March 30, 2010

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