Comment of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for Russian mass media summarizing the results of the meeting of foreign ministers of countries of the Group of Eight, London, 11 April 2013
The discussion that has completed many months of work of experts to prepare the final declaration of ministers was valuable. According to the tradition, foreign ministers meet some time before the summit of the Group of Eight, coordinate and make public their approaches to key international issues. This does not mean that country leaders will not touch upon them during the summit. Surely the most acute problems such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, in Iran, Syria, will be discussed in the Northern Ireland as well, when presidents and prime ministers will gather considering that many time will pass till the beginning of June.
The consolidated position of the Group of Eight about international affairs was recorded in the statement that was published today. It includes consensus approaches to the situation around Iran and the nuclear program of the Korean Peninsula, Syrian crisis, and conflicts in Africa. The positions that were initially identified as requested were significantly different. However, common sense and good will helped us to formulate common approaches that are in the tideway of the need to search for political and diplomatic solutions without isolating anybody (be it African conflicts or Syria) so that the emerging crises are solved by citizens of the country concerned via a national dialog.
Beside country scenes – Syria, Iran, Korean Peninsula, Myanmar in respect of which we supported the reforms that are taking place there, Afghanistan, Mali, Sahara-Sahel zone, DRC – there are topical lines of our cooperation. This is non-proliferation of WMD, counter terrorism, combating drug production. It is very important that at our initiative with the support of France the Group of Eight changed its accent from stopping drug trafficking, that is a symptom only, to combating drug production, that is the essence of the problem.
The statement also reflects safety at sea and aspects of piracy. In general, we had sufficiently constructive team work. The statement surely has no legal force, it cannot supersede practical legal solutions for all listed issues that are made, primarily, within the framework of the UN and its Security Council. But I think that it is valuable as a political signal and landmark.
Our British hosts made the topic of stopping sexual violence in conflicts their main priority. We did not object. We think that this problem is really present, though we recorded in the final documents that it must be solved primarily based on resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, Human Rights Council and at UNGA, about problems of women and children in armed conflicts, including sexual violence. The formulations concerned are formalized in the decisions made today in London. We have also highlighted one important thing – the need to pay not less serious attention to other negative manifestations during armed conflicts as well. First of all, any conflict is an attempt against the most fundamental right of a person – the right to live. All other things are also important, but this is the main. It is civil population that suffers primarily during conflicts, "troubled waters" appear, where terrorists "fish" – we observe this every day in North Africa. Non-proportional elective use of weapons also regularly takes place during conflicts. Let's take Afghanistan, where unmanned aircrafts bomb as if terrorists, but hit a wedding, and harmless people die.
Therefore, by supporting this British initiative, Russia will seek that all problems caused by conflicts remain in the focus of attention of the Group of Eight and the international community in general. The main thing is not only to keep them in the focus of attention, but also to combat their symptoms, to eradicate their cause. Thus drug production is the main thing rather than drug trafficking, and also liquidation of conflicts, coordination of agreements transferring these conflicts into the political stream is a priority rather than combating their consequences.
11 April 2013