Inter-American problems and regional policy
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a meeting with President of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh Issa, Moscow, July 3, 2020
Mr President, colleagues,
It gives us great pleasure to welcome the delegation of the Libyan House of Representatives under your leadership to the Russian Federation. You arrived at the invitation of Chair of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matviyenko and had a productive meeting with her today. We appreciate your decision to use this visit to Moscow for consultations at the Foreign Ministry.
Your visit is taking place at a difficult time for Libya. The country is still reeling from the aftermath of the military venture by the NATO countries in 2011, when Libyan statehood was, in fact, dismantled, the government system destroyed and law enforcement agencies disbanded. All these years, Russia has been consistently operating on the premise that the Libyan conflict has no military solution and that all differences can and should be settled by the Libyans themselves using political methods at the negotiating table.
In this regard, we were genuinely encouraged by the initiative that you, Mr President, came up with on April 23 on the occasion of the beginning of the month of Ramadan. We then fully supported and continue to support your proposal for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the beginning of a political dialogue, which should result in forming new single bodies of authority on the basis of equal representation of the three historical Libyan regions.
We also noted the document dubbed the Cairo Declaration and made public by the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on June 6 during your visit to Egypt. We believe that Cairo’s initiative fits into the framework of the decisions of the Berlin International Conference on Libya and may well form the basis for intra-Libyan discussions on implementing your initiative. Russia will continue to participate in the efforts to resolve the Libya crisis, both by joining all multilateral initiatives and continuing to work through bilateral channels with all Libyan political forces without exception. Your current visit to Moscow, Mr President, confirms our principled approach.
Taking this opportunity, I would like, with your permission, to discuss two more international issues, which are traditionally the subject of our dialogue with the Arab and Muslim world. First of all, I’m talking about the Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which has come to a standstill and in which we support the decisions that were made by the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in recent months. We are convinced that gross violation of the international legal basis underlying the Palestinian-Israeli settlement will put an end to any prospects for a two-state solution and will be fraught with unpredictable consequences for security in the Middle East and North Africa.
We believe that today, more than ever, the efforts of the international community are required to create proper conditions for the immediate resumption and restart of direct Palestinian-Israeli talks under the auspices of the Quartet of international mediators and with the active participation of Arab states. Of course, restoring Palestinian unity is one of the key issues, the solution to which must be found if we want our common efforts to be successful. In this regard, we noted with satisfaction the joint news conference held yesterday by representatives of Fatah and Hamas, during which they announced a decision to jointly uphold the interests of the Palestinian state based on the Palestine Liberation Organisation platform. We expect all Arab representatives to actively support this motion. We would also welcome the active role of the Arab states in promoting the Syrian settlement. We strongly support all actions that will help stop our Western colleagues from attempts to isolate Syria. We stand for Syria returning to the Arab family. I’m aware that this issue is now being discussed by the Arab League. I hope it will be resolved on the basis of justice taking into account the interests of the Arab and Islamic world.
Russia is actively seeking implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on the Syrian settlement. In this regard, I’d like to note the ongoing vigorous efforts in the Astana format. The other day, the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran, as guarantor countries of this process, held another online conference and reiterated their commitment to resolve the Syrian problem solely by encouraging intra-Syrian dialogue. Restoring the Arab states’ presence in Damascus would be helpful. This process has already begun. I know that you also plan to take steps towards this end, and we welcome this.
Eradicating the terrorist threat remains a priority for Syria, Libya and other parts of this most important region of the world. This fight must be principled and consistent without double standards and, of course, without attempts to use terrorists and extremists to promote someone’s self-serving or geopolitical interests.
Mr President, returning to Russia-Libya relations, I would like to inform you that we have decided to resume the operation of the Russian Embassy in Libya, which at this stage will be headed by Charge d’Affaires Dzhamshed Boltaev. He will be temporarily based in Tunisia, but I want to point out that he will be representing Russia throughout Libya.
Welcome to you and your delegation. We look forward to holding useful, concrete and productive talks.