Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Moscow, September 11, 2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
We had good, useful and substantive talks with Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. We discussed many international issues in detail, as well as our bilateral relations, whose progressive development meets the long-term interests of our nations. This process takes place in conformity with the understandings reached by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Our agenda included concrete ways of expanding practical cooperation as well as increasing and diversifying trade. We underscored the importance of the efforts of the joint Russian-Qatari commission on trade, economic and technical cooperation and agreed to prepare its meeting before the end of the year. The meeting is to be held in Doha. Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov will be at the head of this mechanism, which we deem very important. We also noted effective cooperation between the Qatar Investment Authority and the Russian Direct Investment Fund. They have a joint platform worth over $2 billion. A number of their projects are being implemented already.
We welcomed the mutual commitment to stepping up interparliamentary ties, tourist flows, as well as contacts in science and education. There is a mutual interest in stepping up our cooperation in promoting sports, ensuring security and organising international sporting events. We are already coordinating our actions in view of preparing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, having passed the relay baton after hosting the 2018 World Cup in the Russian Federation. Our Qatari friends are interested in Russia’s experience, and we are glad to share it.
We discussed international affairs, paying special attention to the situation in and around Afghanistan after the United States and other NATO countries withdrew their troops from the country. We share a mutual interest in making the de-escalation of tension in Afghanistan a priority for the international community and preventing any negative developments from spilling over into neighbouring countries. We welcomed the efforts by our Qatari partners to promote intra-Afghan dialogue. Over the years, they have accumulated a wealth of positive experience as mediators, offering their capital as a venue for talks between the Taliban and the former Afghan government. Today, this experience is highly relevant. Qatar’s efforts to promote an inclusive process, bringing together all the political, ethnic and other forces in Afghanistan, are essential for preventing any resurgence of violence, and could help form government institutions that would ensure the participation of all segments of the Afghan society and take into consideration the interests of these groups.
We attach great importance to resolving Afghanistan’s humanitarian issues. What has happened there has had dire consequences. We share the concern about the threat of a growing outflow of refugees from Afghanistan into the neighbouring countries. Many of them will try to reach Europe, creating serious challenges for countries where they decide to travel without being invited. We emphasised the need to resolve this issue as soon as possible. To do this, we need to leverage the capabilities of all the countries involved, primarily those whose Afghan policy led to such dismal results.
I have heard statements by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who pinned the blame for the current developments on the former Afghan government and the Afghan armed forces, alleging that they were incapable of keeping the situation under their control. This brings to mind an old Russian saying about dodging the blame, to say the least. Of course, NATO has to take a more adequate, objective look at the situation with a dose of self-criticism. We agreed to continue to coordinate closely our approaches on the developments in Afghanistan in all their aspects, both in bilateral and multilateral settings that are now becoming increasingly relevant.
We discussed the developments in the Middle East and North Africa, reaffirming that there is no alternative to UN Security Council Resolution 2254 when it comes to the settlement in Syria. We informed our partners about our bilateral contacts with Damascus, as well as our efforts within the Astana format together with Turkey and Iran, as well as in Geneva, where we expect the Constitutional Committee formed by the government and opposition delegations to resume its work in the near future.
We emphasised the need to provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrians and help them restore civilian infrastructure destroyed during the war, without making a political issue out of this subject. This is precisely what the recently adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2585 calls for: unblocking humanitarian access to Idlib through Damascus with the involvement of the Syrian government, as well as launching projects to rebuild healthcare, education, housing and water supply infrastructure.
We agreed that the Palestinian problem should not be relegated to the background as Israel normalises its relations with a number of Arab countries. For us, this is a matter of principle, and we have been consistent in maintaining this position, just as our friends in Qatar and a number of other Arab friends. We reaffirmed the need to consolidate international efforts for launching direct Israeli-Palestinian talks as soon as possible for settling the permanent status issue and achieving a comprehensive settlement.
We touched upon the developments in the Persian Gulf. Russia advocates a constructive and unifying agenda for this strategic region. We believe that it needs mechanisms that would enable all the concerned countries to come up with collective responses to various risks and threats. We agreed to continue our dialogue on this topic, including taking into consideration Russia’s initiatives to this effect. The updated Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf region has been recently circulated as an official UN Security Council and UN General Assembly document.
In autumn 2021, we intend to hold the second meeting of political scientists and experts from all the Gulf countries and other interested countries, if the public health situation permits.
We are satisfied with the talks, which have demonstrated yet again that Russia and Qatar are both interested in strengthening their cooperation in all spheres without exception, including bilateral ties and on the regional and international agendas.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my colleague and friend for this visit. I am looking forward to close cooperation on all matters moving forward.