Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions during a joint news conference with Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, International Economic Cooperation and Telecommunications of San Marino Luca Beccari, Moscow, September 13, 2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
We had substantive talks with Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, International Economic Cooperation and Telecommunications of the Republic of San Marino Luca Beccari.
The talks were useful. Our meetings with our San Marino colleagues are always held in a friendly atmosphere. We maintain traditionally friendly relations. We pointed out that our relations are continuing to develop consistently in a number of spheres despite the objective restrictions of the sanitary and epidemiological regulations. We share the resolve to promote our bilateral cooperation. We believe that today’s visit has been a major step towards this goal.
We appreciate San Marino’s independent foreign policy, including when it comes to unilateral and illegal sanctions. This offers an additional opportunity to strengthen our practical interaction.
Today we talked about options for building up our cooperation, including in trade, the economy and investment.
We discussed prospects for our future joint efforts against the coronavirus pandemic. Our cooperation in this sphere (we have supplied Sputnik V to the republic for the vaccination of its population) has helped improve the epidemiological situation in San Marino.
We welcomed the joint resolve to promote our cultural and humanitarian contacts, including with the help of the San Marino-Russia Association, which has recently been established at the Honorary Consulate of Russia in San Marino.
A number of Russian universities, including Moscow State University (MSU) and Moscow Pedagogical State University (MPGU), are interested in developing academic exchanges with San Marino universities. We have offered our colleagues to make use of the opportunities available at the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, which has advanced training courses for the staff of foreign diplomatic agencies.
We believe that an improvement in the sanitary and epidemiological situation will allow us to revitalise popular tourist links for Russian citizens wishing to visit San Marino and for the residents of San Marino who would like to travel to Russia.
We have reached an agreement of principle to accelerate the drafting of an intergovernmental agreement on mutual cancellation of visa requirements for our citizens. It is in the final stage of preparation. We will coordinate its signing soon.
We also discussed current international issues. We have agreed to maintain our cooperation on various international platforms, including the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
There is a shared interest in using the unification potential of European agencies, or more precisely, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, in the interests of promoting a positive agenda rather than building up aggressive rhetoric, which makes one wonder whether our Western colleagues need this architecture for cooperation or for anti-Russia activities.
We have come to an agreement regarding a dialogue between our diplomatic services. We have agreed to prepare a plan of consultations so as to maintain contacts on a regular, systemic basis. The delegation of Luca Beccari has a busy agenda today and tomorrow, which includes meetings and talks at Russian agencies, with the leadership of the finance and healthcare ministries, and a meeting with the Moscow government.
I have no doubt that this first official visit of the San Marino Secretary of State to Russia will be used to map out promising joint projects. I am sure that the capital of Russia will make a positive impression on our guests.
This year we will mark 65 years of the establishment of consular relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of San Marino.
I would like to once again express gratitude to my colleague for our joint efforts.
Question (addressed to both ministers): What are the European countries’ views on the possible recognition of the Russian coronavirus vaccines? Which countries are strongly against this? Is there a chance that the Russian vaccine will be recognised in the EU soon?
Sergey Lavrov: This issue is covered thoroughly and regularly. I will not speculate about which countries are strongly against this and which are just wary of annoying the Brussels bureaucracy. I can tell you which countries have already approved the use of the Russian vaccine: Hungary and Slovakia. An official statement has been made to this effect. The EU countries are not strictly required to wait until the European Medicines Agency issues a positive conclusion. The EU signed contracts for the purchase of Western vaccines long before these vaccines were registered at the EMA. We cannot make any guesses.
We have taken note of the EU leaders’ numerous statements regarding the focus on the Western vaccines. In particular, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has made such statements. Early this year in France, Russia and China were publicly accused of aggressive vaccine messaging campaigns. We are aware of this bias. The Russian Healthcare Ministry, Rospotrebnadzor and Russian scientists maintain contacts with the European Commission and the EMA. We would like these contacts to be as professional as possible, without any political bias. It is in this spirit that Russian Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko spoke at a recent meeting of the G20 health ministers. We hope that those who are really interested in joining efforts to protect the life and health of people will gain the upper hand, including in the EU.
Question: According to recent reports, Russian citizen Alexander Franchetti has been detained in the Czech Republic at Ukraine’s request. Kiev is preparing the documents for his extradition. Have the Czech authorities notified their Russian counterparts of the charges brought against him? What measures will Moscow take to protect his rights?
Sergey Lavrov: No, when I arrived at these talks, the Czech authorities had not provided this information. We have sent the necessary requests through the Russian Embassy in the Czech Republic and an official request through the Russian Investigative Committee. We want to know what charges have been brought against him. Does the charge concern the fight against neo-Nazis in the form of the so-called voluntary battalions, which have been declared illegal even in the West? I hope that the Czech authorities will strictly comply with the law and will not fall for political provocations.