Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and replies to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Honduran Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales Banegas, Moscow, April 26, 2021
Talks were held with my colleague from Honduras Lisandro Rosales Banegas. They were constructive, businesslike and detailed.
We discussed major bilateral and international issues and outlined our goals for future cooperation. We are united by the bonds of friendship, mutual empathy and the positive experience of cooperation.
Last year we observed the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. Honduras established its embassy in the Russian capital in 2013. In 2018, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Honduras signed a treaty on the foundations of bilateral relations.
An agreement on visa-free travel for our citizens has been valid since 2015. It opens further prospects for business cooperation and development of people-to-people contacts, educational, cultural and other ties.
We confirmed out mutual desire to promote our partnership that is making steady headway in many different areas and agreed to raise it to a new level. We outlined ways to intensify our political dialogue, in part, between our foreign ministries. We planned to hold a regular round of full bilateral consultations on all issues of cooperation in the near future, as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.
We agreed to expand our trade and economic ties. Last year, we recorded a substantial increase in trade despite the pandemic. It has already exceeded $70 million; naturally, this is not the limit. We agreed to think about creating a joint chamber of commerce and industry or a business council to seek more opportunities for trade and mutually beneficial investment.
We have good prospects for deepening our cooperation in education, including educating and training people in various areas for both civilian and law enforcement jobs.
We agreed to develop cooperation in mitigating the consequences of emergencies. In the past, Mr Minister has occupied several positions in his government in this area. Hence, we have additional advantages in developing cooperation here.
We emphasised the opportunities we have for responding to emergencies through bilateral channels and at the Russian-Cuban fire and rescue specialists training center.
We will continue upgrading our contractual legal framework, in part, for countering drug trafficking and other challenges and threats.
Cooperation to counter the COVID-19 pandemic received particular attention. Russia and Honduras signed a contract last month. The first batch of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine has already been delivered; the second shipment is scheduled for tomorrow. Today, Mr Minister and his delegation will meet with the management of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which coordinates cooperation with our foreign partners in this area.
We also emphasised that, in general, interaction in the healthcare sector requires an effort to make it sustainable and long-term. Among other things, we proposed taking a closer look at the experience of the education and advanced training of medical workers at higher educational institutions under the Russian Healthcare Ministry.
We have close positions on the key issues of our time. Our countries consistently advocate a fairer democratic world order based on international law, with a central role played by the UN as well as respect for each nation’s right to independently choose its path, without external interference.
We supported all states’ efforts to ensure universal security and the best conditions for progressive socioeconomic development.
We agreed to develop cooperation at the UN, and to continue coordinating the actions of our delegations in New York. We expressed gratitude to our colleagues from Honduras for supporting the majority of Russian initiatives on key items on the current international agenda.
We discussed the integration processes in Latin America. We noted that the region’s position as one of the important poles of the emerging multipolar world is growing stronger. Russia – we especially emphasised this – is not looking at Latin America through the prism of geopolitical interests. We oppose the region becoming an arena of rivalry between major powers from outside the region. We do not intend to advise Latin Americans on choosing their friends and foes, and do not think anyone else should.
We consistently advocate mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries in the region with a pragmatic and non-ideology based approach. We have a mutual interest in developing constructive interaction between the Russian Federation and the Central American Integration System (SICA). This is a good platform for dialogue between Moscow and all member countries of that important association, which has proven its relevance.
We have expressed gratitude for the recent decision to grant the Russian Federation observer status at SICA. As a next step, we agreed to develop a programme of bilateral cooperation.
Inter-parliamentary contacts are another important area. We appreciate the joint work as part of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN). Over the past three years, a number of major international forums have been held under its auspices and with its assistance, with Russia involved, including meetings on cybercrime, international information security, space, Latin America-Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) interaction, as well as on the fight against the coronavirus infection.
A series of international events will take place in the Russian Federation this year. I mean, first, the Third Eurasian Women's Forum, which will take place in St Petersburg in October, as well as the Global Forum of Young Diplomats planned for this summer. We invited our Honduran colleagues to send their representatives. As far as I know, our invitation will be accepted. We will be delighted to meet the respective delegations at our events.
We are also grateful for the appointment of the new Charge d'Affaires ad interim of Honduras in Russia, Mr Martinez Rodriguez, who arrived in Moscow just five days ago and participated in our meeting today. We will provide him with every support in his work.
Finally, I would like to mention that Honduras is celebrating an anniversary this year.
September 15, 2021 marks 200 years of Honduran independence. We are ready to render every assistance for any events that our Honduran friends may be planning in the Russian Federation on this occasion.
Once again, I would like to underline our satisfaction with the results of the talks, which will certainly contribute to the consistent development of our partnership in various spheres.
Question: After the contradictory statements from Prague about the incident in Vrbetica, including, I mean, yesterday's speech by President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman, a lot of questions arise about the role of the Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev, about what exactly was stored in the warehouses, about how the investigation is being conducted, who should be contacted for answers to all these questions and how, in general, Russia intends to react to what is happening.
Sergey Lavrov: Much has already been said on this topic. Let me just mention a couple of points. As you know, President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman, having familiarised himself with his statement, proposed only to continue studying all the versions of what happened seven years ago at the arms depot. Nothing more. This absolutely sensible statement was followed by a reaction, including from the leadership of the Czech Parliament, which accused President Zeman of interfering with the investigation. This speaks of only one thing: those who make such statements have already decided everything for themselves, decided that there are no alternative explanations other than the guilt of Russia. Although at the same time the top officials at the Czech Prosecutor's Office say that the investigation is ongoing.
Probably, all this, as well as other issues related to this story, should be considered by the European Union, since this is its territory. Judging by the comments of experts, this all happened in violation of a number of norms and rules in force in the European Union, and there is also a significant indication that international conventions were also violated, including the Ottawa Convention prohibiting anti-personnel mines, and the Arms Trade Treaty, to which, as I understand it, all members of the European Union are parties. So it is high time Brussels somehow explained what is happening on the territory of its member countries.