Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, Moscow, June 22, 2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our talks were productive, fulfilling and specific, and covered the entire range of our relations and the tasks set by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro for our respective foreign ministries and other departments.
I would like to once again congratulate our Venezuelan friends on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Carabobo. The actual anniversary is the day after tomorrow. This battle determined Venezuela's independence.
In addition, last month we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. Over the past quarter century, our relations have reached the level of true strategic partnership. Ties between our nations are friendly and warm and are based on mutual respect and affection.
While the pandemic has taken its toll on international life, it did not hamper our political dialogue, including at the highest and high levels. The most recent conversation between the presidents on February 19 was devoted to specific tasks at this point in our relations. We are pursuing numerous mutually beneficial projects: significant progress has been made in energy, in manufacturing, the social sphere and defence cooperation. We praised the participation of the Venezuelan delegation led by Vice President Tareck El Aissami at the SPIEF.
Today, we talked about ways to promote cooperation in fighting the coronavirus. Venezuela was the first state in the Western Hemisphere to register the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and successfully test it. Arrangements are in place for regular shipments of the vaccine. A month ago, Venezuela registered the single-component Sputnik Light vaccine and signed a contract with producer EpiVacCorona during the SPIEF. Prospects for expanding cooperation in the pharmaceutical industry in general are good, including the production of insulin and flu vaccines in Venezuela.
We welcomed the beginning of regular flights between Moscow and Caracas. This is a seminal event. Of course, it will promote contacts between businesses, governments and individuals.
Venezuela is our reliable and longtime friend in Latin America, the Caribbean and in the international arena in general. We are impressed by that country’s independent and nationally oriented foreign policy based on the UN Charter.
Today, we spoke in favour of forming a fairer democratic international system and expressed our strong rejection of attempts to replace international law with a “rules-based order.” We agreed to continue to rally healthy forces in the UN in order to uphold the UN Charter’s principles and against the policy of imposing illegitimate unilateral coercive measures that the West has been using increasingly often.
We are grateful to our colleagues for an update on the developments in Venezuela and the efforts to normalise the socioeconomic situation. We see major visible results here. As you are aware, the deterioration of the situation was largely provoked by the United States imposing illegal unilateral sanctions, including blocking Venezuela's state assets abroad.
We expressed support for our Venezuelan friends as they continue to defend their national sovereignty. We believe that any internal political problems should be resolved exclusively by the people of Venezuela within the framework of national legislation through an inclusive dialogue without outside interference.
We welcomed Caracas’s efforts to engage all political parties in the constitutional and electoral process. We reaffirmed Russia's readiness to assist the Venezuelan government in overcoming pressing challenges, including through humanitarian response mechanisms, to provide assistance in countering the spread of the new coronavirus infection and provide other humanitarian aid, both bilaterally and through specialised UN agencies.
I believe that the outcomes of the talks have once again highlighted our mutual commitment to building up our strategic partnership.
Once again, I would like to thank Foreign Minister of Venezuela Jorge Arreaza for our joint work.
Question: Would you please brief us on what Russia and Venezuela have achieved through cooperation over the last 25 years?
Sergey Lavrov: We can talk a lot about the level of relations that [our two countries] reached after signing the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation 25 years ago. In the opening remarks, we described key areas of cooperation between Russia and Venezuela today. The result achieved over 25 years is a genuine, real and unlimited strategic partnership. As we develop our legitimate bilateral cooperation today, we feel the impact of illegitimate sanctions. This notwithstanding, we are coordinating new projects in industry, the energy sector and social services and we are determined to follow through on them for the benefit of our peoples. Most importantly, this strategic partnership rests on broad and strong support from both Russians and Venezuelans.
Question: Tomorrow, there will be a vote at the UN on a resolution calling for an end to America’s economic blockade of Cuba. What do you think of the [outcome] of the vote? What is your view of the fact that this resolution has been approved annually for 28 years while the United Sates continued to ignore it?
Sergey Lavrov: I strongly believe that, essentially, this will be a unanimous vote. In previous years, the United States has not been included among those who voted that the illegitimate restrictions regarding Cuba be lifted. Occasionally the US has managed to persuade one or two countries to not support this readily apparent resolution, which fully complies with the UN Charter and international law. In my view, the same thing will happen this time.
It is high time Washington realised that it should build its relations with other countries, including the Latin American and Caribbean countries, on the basis of fairness, equality and mutual respect, rather than on the principles written into the Monroe Doctrine and officially voiced by the previous administration as a guide for action. Otherwise, I think, the United States will be making a great mistake.
Question: Not long ago, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said the EU plans to send a technical team of experts to Venezuela to assess the viability of deploying an observation mission there for the November elections. What does Caracas think about this, keeping in mind the fact that Europe has not sent observation missions to Venezuelan elections for three years now and does not recognise the election process?
Sergey Lavrov: Russia plans to send observers to the upcoming elections. Our specialists took part in monitoring the parliamentary elections in December 2020.
We are expecting a number of foreign guests, including observers from Venezuela, for the September elections to the State Duma. This is a very useful practice of familiarising each other with the processes in our respective countries that represent the essence of democracy as a universal concept.
I believe Mr Borrell made the correct decision to send an assessment mission to decide whether to send observers to the elections. I support this decision. I see this as Josep Borrell’s ability to admit mistakes made by the EU in the past, when it disregarded Venezuelan realities and laws.
Question: Will Russia continue to provide assistance to Venezuela to strengthen its defence and security, in addition to providing assistance in industry and energy? Are there any specific talks underway?
Sergey Lavrov: It’s not are we ready to do so, we have never stopped. The Venezuelan army has received Russian systems and military equipment. Our specialists are working with them. Under a contract, they carry out regular maintenance of the equipment. We continue talks on new supplies of particular weapons in accordance with what our Venezuelan friends are telling us based on the needs of their armed and security forces.