Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov answered questions from the Russian television channel about the Iranian nuclear issue, the prospects for holding a conference on Syria, and the situation in Ukraine. The Foreign Minister also commented on a number of aspects of Russian-American relations, including the recent accusations against Russian diplomats.
Question: Did you discuss further concrete steps with the Iranian Foreign Minister MD Zarif on further concrete steps to eliminate the controversial issues that remained around the talks on the Iranian nuclear program?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: The 5 + 1 group deals with all issues of Iran’s nuclear program and resolving the problems arising around it, which, together with Iran and under the guidance and coordination of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, C. Ashton work I did not have any authority on behalf of this group in Tehran to further develop any topics and think about further steps.
The current visit to Tehran was bilateral, and there was no need to develop what was achieved. Everything is most concretely recorded in the Geneva document describing the steps that Tehran will take in the next six months. First of all, it concerns the freezing of almost all objects, non-expansion of enrichment over 5%, termination of enrichment to 20%, termination of any work at the site where the heavy water reactor is being built in Arak. It also includes a number of other measures, including ensuring transparency, which implies a significant expansion of the competence of the IAEA inspectors to observe and verify what is happening.
In response, measures to relieve the sanctions burden were agreed. As a first step, they should be taken by those countries that, bypassing the UN Security Council, adopted unilateral sanctions against Iran. We are talking about the United States and the European Union. All this should happen within six months. Iranian foreign assets that were frozen as part of unilateral sanctions will be partially unfrozen. All this is written to the last detail, and there is nothing to argue about.
As for further work, it should be carried out only in a collective format (which was agreed upon) and focus on agreeing on the final parameters that the peaceful Iranian nuclear program will have, including uranium enrichment parameters for fuel production, while simultaneously closing all existing IAEA issues as well as putting it under full and strict control of the Agency. This work can only be collective.
Naturally, we touched on this topic at the talks with Iranian Foreign Minister MD Zarif. We have a common belief that the first six-month stage is painted very concretely. In the framework of the implementation of these agreements, no need to try to interpret them either extensively, or narrow something down. I hope that it will be so.
Unfortunately, the beginning of the implementation of the first stage is delayed, because the European Union has informed us that they must approve these agreements and must be approved by all EU member states. The nearest opportunity for this will come on December 16 of this year. By the way, on the same day I will meet with all the EU 28 ministers and K. Ashton within the so-called Permanent Partnership Council. However, there are signs that this time the European Union may not be able to approve this package, and then everything will be transferred to January, i.e. the countdown of the six months of the first phase will be postponed for another month.
This worries us, and we will try to clarify with our EU colleagues what kind of “insurmountable obstacles” these are, because of which, in fact, they postpone approval of the very agreement that everyone called historical a breakthrough and the implementation of which everyone wants.
Question: Let's move on to another historical event. I mean the Syrian issue. Now we are actively preparing for the Geneva-2 conference, which should be held next year. One of the key issues is the participation of Iran in it. In the light of your talks with Iranian colleagues and the preparation of this conference, is it likely that this event will be postponed again? Will Iran participate in it? And who will take part from the Syrian opposition?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: A very correct and very difficult question. First, the Geneva-2 conference has been repeatedly postponed. If you remember, the initiative to convene it was launched on 7 in May of this year, when US Secretary of State J. Kerry was on a visit to Moscow. Since then, we have repeatedly met, and each time, among other issues, we discussed the terms for convening this conference. Of course, we have a common understanding that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, in agreement with his special representative for Syria, L. Brahimi, should announce the dates. However, everyone understands that the Americans and we also discussed and discussed the issue of deadlines, because they should not be artificial, but such that all parties would be ready to come to Geneva and start a serious conversation.
Soon after 7 in May, we secured the consent of the Syrian government to send a delegation to this conference, and it only recently confirmed its agreement. The Syrian opposition receives the most contradictory signals: either its leader says that they have decided to go, his deputy says that it is pointless to go until they achieve military superiority “on the ground”. Or another example: first, the opposition states that there will be no preconditions, and recently, again, the leadership of the so-called “National Opposition” stated that the “Group of Friends of Syria” (these are Western countries, countries of the region and other states supporting this National Coalition) a few months ago in London and there she formulated the support of NK in requiring it at the conference to require a regime change. This is precisely the prerequisite, which should not be. The conference should have a common agenda, namely, the communique adopted last June in Geneva, which states that the Syrians themselves should decide all the issues of the future of their country in the framework of negotiations between the government and all opposition groups on the basis of general agreement. And all external players should encourage the Syrians to do just that.
Obviously, the situation is confusing. We, of course, support the efforts that the Americans, as they have pledged, are taking to convince the opposition to come to the conference without preliminary unacceptable conditions, and we are working not only with the Syrian government, but also with all the oppositionists, including Nagorno-Karabakh.
Opposition representatives were repeatedly invited to Moscow, many of them came at the leadership level. Now we have invited the National Coalition, and its leader, Mr. A. Jarba, announced that he would come. Dialogue with them is still necessary. But in parallel with the attempts of the sponsors of the National Coalition to expose it as the main force that will represent all opponents of the regime in the negotiations, this very “main force” begins to “burst together”. There were statements (we want to double-check them) that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood members of the National Coalition, who declared that they would have their own special campaigns, either came out of it or separated themselves in some way. There were reports that the military units of the so-called "Syrian Free Army" for the most part no longer obey the National Socialism. Unless, of course, they once obeyed her. According to very recent information (which, by the way, is confirmed), about twenty-plus detachments united in the Islamic Front. This organization does not recognize either the "Syrian Free Army", or the National Coalition, or Al-Qaida. However, it is formed from groups that are very close in spirit to Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and, so to speak, the Levant, to such extremist and al-Qaeda jihadist groups. This Islamic Front declared its goal to create a caliphate in Syria and, so to speak, a large Levant. There is conflicting information about who finances this structure. All this we will clarify.
On December 20 in Geneva, the next and, as we expected, the final preparatory contact between us, Americans, United Nations, with the inclusion of other permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League and Turkey will take place. However, all these questions need to be clarified, because we are told that the National Coalition will represent everyone. At the same time, such centrifugal processes occur "on the ground." At the same time, other political opponents of B. Assad, who are not formed from immigrants, but from those who have always lived and continue to live in Syria - the “National Coordinating Committee”, the “Supreme Council of Kurds of Syria” - they also do not agree with the leadership National coalitions, because they do not agree with her, as they believe, very extremist inquiry positions. In all this you need to understand. For us, there is only one landmark - Security Council resolution 2118, which endorsed the process of chemical disarmament in Syria. It is in full swing, and there will not be any serious disruptions. The same resolution approved the convening of "Geneva-2", stressing that representatives of the whole spectrum of Syrian society should participate in the dialogue. Consequently, it is necessary to make sure that the entire opposition is represented at a decent level, and not by any single structure, in whose capacity big questions arise, given the confusion and vacillation within it, as well as the throwing between its members when it comes to Geneva-2.
Question: You have listed the most capable groups that are terrorist and constitute the main force of the so-called armed opposition. Will the issue of combating terrorism be discussed in Geneva? After all, the formations you mention are part of international terrorism. The same Jabhat al-Nusra is an al-Qaida cell in Syria. Will Geneva decide how to deal with such groups?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I think that this will be the main problem. If only because when the Geneva communique was adopted in June 2012, it was already clear that along with the Syrian opposition, rooted in Syrian soil and dissatisfied with the regime for one reason or another, more and more foreign mercenaries, jihadists, who start to fight with everyone: the regime and its opponents, trying to occupy some territories and declare Sharia law there. It was a very limited phenomenon, not put forward as the main task, which was to stop the bloodshed and prevent the Syrian people from plunging into a catastrophic abyss with millions of human lives in humanitarian crisis and catastrophe, etc.
Now, after a year and a half has passed since the adoption of the Geneva communique and a little less than a year from the initiative to convene a conference, more and more of our interlocutors, including Western ones, frankly tell us in confidence that the main threat is not B mode. Assad, as it was until recently pronounced to the public, and the threat of the seizure of Syria and other vast territories in North Africa and the Middle East by jihadists and the establishment of orders and the power of a terrorist international there. Perhaps this is now the most important thing. It is not by chance that when the G8 met at the Lough Erne summit four months ago, the declaration in the section on Syria recorded the call of all G8 leaders to the government and the opposition to unite and expel terrorists from Syrian territory, and jointly fight them. Moreover, this passage was included in the declaration on the initiative of the summit host - British Prime Minister D. Cameron. When we now discuss with our Western partners the current affairs related to the convening of the conference and its agenda, we invariably put this problem in the first place and say that we must do everything to put together an efficient alliance of the government and the patriotic opposition against the visiting terrorists, who flew to Syria from around the world, as if it were a tasty morsel, to realize their evil plans.
By the way, the statistics more and more testifies that “Jabhat al-Nusra”, “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” and other groups simply “talk” among themselves. Between them there are clashes, captures of settlements. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood village was captured somewhere, and other jihadists who do not share their radicalism want to establish their own rules there. Of course, there are regular clashes between jihadists and the government, between jihadists and the Free Syrian Army. Thus, conditions are ripe for all Syrian patriots to understand what is more important for them: to fight on the side of those who want to turn Syria into a caliphate, or to unite and return to their homeland the image that it was famous for centuries, namely a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, secular state in which everyone lives comfortably. This topic will definitely be one of the main topics at the Geneva Conference.
Question: In Ukraine, the situation is developing in such a way that the government’s refusal to sign a protocol of intent with the EU resulted in popular unrest and opposition speeches. How can events develop there, and what is the position of Russia?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: The situation itself has already been commented on several times by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and other representatives of our leadership. She directed and prepared for a long time. The reaction to the verge of hysteria on the sovereign decision of the legitimate authorities of Ukraine is amazing. What did the government of V.F. Yanukovych do? Maybe it left the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty weapons? Or stated that in violation of their obligations creates a nuclear bomb? Or shot someone?
The government took advantage of its legitimate competence, since it is the executive that decides whether or not to sign any international treaties. If the government decides to sign, the document goes to parliament for ratification. There you can already express all your complaints, ask questions, support or not support him, protest and react in a constitutional, civilized field.
An absolutely normal event - the announcement by the government that a detailed study of this agreement suggests that it is not very beneficial for Ukraine, they want to think more, refuse to sign now and will still study it - should be so rabid, you can’t call another word reaction. A demonstration on such a scale and with such fierce slogans goes out, as if the country has declared war against a peace-loving state against the will of the Ukrainian people. This does not fit into the framework of normal human analysis. There are no doubts that provocateurs are behind this. The fact that our Western partners have apparently lost their sense of reality makes me very sad.
Imagine if I came to Germany in the midst of events, when a new party of Euro-skeptics appeared there, which in a few months gained quite serious ratings with slogans “stop feeding Europe” and “Germany should distance itself from the EU”. I would go among the demonstrators who support these party members, who advocate that Germany change its attitude towards the EU and become isolated from it. How would all this be perceived? I think that the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assemblies of NATO, the Council of Europe and the OSCE would have passed resolutions on how outrageous that Russians interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign Germany. And how to explain what is happening now in Ukraine, when the heads of foreign affairs agencies, the High Representative of the European Union come and demand from the Ukrainian people to make a choice in favor of joining the Association with the EU?
Note the difference in positions. The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, has repeatedly said that everyone should respect the sovereignty of the Ukrainian state, and we all will have to respect the choice that the Ukrainian people will make. Western Europeans say: everyone must respect the choice of the Ukrainian people in favor of Europe. Those. the choice for the Ukrainians has already been made, all the rest of it must simply be respected. This leads to sad reflections.
As I said, December 16 this year. EU foreign ministers will gather for the next monthly meeting in Brussels. It so happened that we long ago agreed to hold a meeting of the Permanent Partnership Council at the level of foreign ministers between Russia and the EU there. It will be interesting for me to talk on this topic with our colleagues, who uphold the principles of non-interference in internal affairs, respect for sovereign governments and advocate not to pursue new dividing lines of the type: either you are with the EU or against it.
We have repeatedly proposed, and President Vladimir Putin once again confirmed (this is stated in the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation), calmly collectively building a common economic humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. The Customs Union we have created is not an attempt to isolate itself from this goal, but a conscious form of cooperation between the three countries, aimed at increasing the competitiveness of our industry, agriculture, banking and financial spheres, and the service sector as a whole. So that later, being more competitive, to talk on an equal footing, on more favorable terms, with the same European Union about the free trade zone. And not to do it now, when the EU is trying to impose its position on the so-called Eastern Partnership countries, when they do not compete with the overwhelming majority of European goods. But they are lured into a free trade zone, receiving markets that will be immediately filled with more competitive products from Europe, killing similar production in countries that sign Association agreements, creating problems for Russia, because we also have no customs borders with these countries. This is all the ins and outs.
Our European partners are worried, first of all, because it’s so inexpensive enough, not to say a free increase in profits, especially in times of crisis. The second reason is the ideological charge. Those who thought in the categories “either or else”, and those who put the main task throughout the Eastern Partnership project, even artificially, using blackmail, but tearing our neighbors away from Russia, saw that things were not so simple.
We will have a conversation on this topic, quite seriously. I hope that my partners will approach him honestly and will not evade him under any pretexts.
Question: Is the door open for Ukraine to the Customs Union?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: The door to the Customs Union is open to any state that is ready to sign all the documents that form its basis, and then the documents that, in addition to the CU, form the basis of the Common Economic Space. By May of next year, the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union should be prepared, which will remove all restrictions, eliminate all exemptions and ensure complete free movement of goods, capital, labor and services.
Question: A number of countries that do not even border with Russia have expressed a desire to at least begin the process of approaching the CU, and in the future - joining it. Does this mean that the CU model has become pretty in Vietnam, in India?
Lavrov: This is a big market. It should be clearly understood that neither India, nor Vietnam, nor Turkey have asked for membership in the CU, they have not written any applications. They offered to start negotiations on the creation of a free trade zone, for which common borders have no meaning. And there are plenty of examples. Negotiations on the creation of a free trade zone between the CU and Vietnam have already begun. We expect that if successful - and there are very good chances - they can serve as a model for similar negotiations on a free trade zone between the CU and ASEAN. At about the same time as negotiations are under way with Vietnam on the creation of a free trade zone between the CU and New Zealand, as well as the CU and the European Free Trade Association, which includes Western European countries (in particular, Switzerland, Norway) that are not members of the EU. There is interest, and it is mutual. We have the majority of those who are interested in developing such relations with the CU, complementary economies, with the exception of certain types of goods, but they need to coordinate special regimes. I think this is a promising business.
Question: Recently there was information that E. Snowden is wanted to “steal” from Russia. Does the fact that he received asylum and is in Russia interfere with relations between Moscow and Washington?
SV Lavrov: It does not bother us. We did not create this problem. We didn’t deprive E. Snowden of a passport - a document necessary for traveling around the world. He did not choose the route - he did it himself. We didn’t arrange “horror stories” like the forced landing of the plane of the President of Bolivia E. Morales.
First of all, we were guided by legal norms, because we have no agreement on extradition and extradition with the United States, although we have offered it to the Americans for many years. I will not hide, first of all, in order to achieve the extradition of characters who are accused in Russia of committing grave crimes, including terrorism, who took refuge in the territory of the United States and who are not given to us and will never give up.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that we have no extradition agreement with the Americans, therefore there are no legal grounds. We were guided by ethical, humanitarian considerations: when a person asks for temporary asylum, having penetrated into his situation (and he faces a trial, which is unlikely to be righteous), we made a decision in full compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law on asylum.
How much it bothers the Americans, I can not say. Sometimes it seems that they are irritated by this situation, inflate it to universal proportions, do not understand our intelligible explanations - legal and humanitarian. I don’t think that in the White House or the US Department of State, but, probably, in some other divisions of the American Administration there are people who want to “annoy” us for this.
Question: Please comment on the scandal that occurred with Russian diplomats who were accused of illegally registering medical insurance, receiving funds to pay for Medicaid obstetric aid. The Foreign Ministry has already described this as an attempt by Washington to create another conflict with Moscow.
SV Lavrov: We dealt with this. Firstly, the statement that all of them have no right to it, since they are foreigners, is wrong. In the US, there are laws that are passed in different states and that allow foreigners to use Medicaid funds. Secondly, the allegations that, according to the incomes that Russian diplomats received, they did not fall under the category of persons who are supposed to receive such payments through the Medicaid line, do not fully correspond to the truth.
We specifically studied the personal affairs of the listed colleagues, and at least some of them at the time when they applied for such assistance, the salary was at the level that allows you to request such assistance from the American Foundation. This, of course, is not about all employees, but about a very small part. And it was about ten years ago - after all, the Americans began to follow this topic with 2004. This, by the way, is also a separate aspect of the situation that characterizes them.
Since then, wages have been raised. Although in 2004, the overwhelming majority of those mentioned by Americans received more than they wrote in applications asking for payment of obstetrics. This is a disciplinary offense, followed by disciplinary action. Most of the 49 individuals in question have long left the United States. 11 people still remained at the time of this announcement news. All of them have either moved to Russia or will be back soon.
Once again, this is a disciplinary offense, because, slyly with the execution of applications, citing distorted figures in order to get some benefits, they violated the rules and regulations of the host country, which the diplomat has no right to do. I emphasize once again - disciplinary penalties are applied to them and will be applied.
There is another question. If diplomats find themselves in violation of the norms of behavior and laws of the host country, why wait ten years? Spun this topic with 2004 g. Perhaps they wanted to save more cases so that the figure would be more impressive. If they had told us in 2004 that one employee wanted to get what he was not supposed to, we probably would have figured out somehow with this employee. But they have accumulated almost fifty people, probably, so that it sounds louder. Waited ten years.
Diplomats of foreign countries, including American, quite regularly allow offenses against Russian law. We are not trying to make an information bomb out of this, but immediately turn to the embassies and strive to resolve the issue without any informational reasons or whipping up passions. I think that the Americans should have done the same in this situation. But they chose a different path.
Another aspect that is associated with this. Maybe the FBI and the special services that deal with this are not quite familiar with the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic immunity, immunity of diplomatic property and diplomatic agents - this is what the Convention calls diplomats who have immunity, including the right to privacy, correspondence, property, etc. In this case, all bank accounts were fully verified, opened for access by special services. We do not know whether there were court decisions that allowed such actions by the special services. Even if they were, I don’t know whether the US Administration informed the courts that the diplomats have rights, immunity and immunity. The US State Department should have known for sure about the rights and obligations arising from the Vienna Conventions. We are talking about this topic with our colleagues.
I refer to the ethical and legal aspects of the actions of American partners not to justify our employees. Those who deliberately went to the forgery, committed violations of the norms of behavior abroad, they have not been canceled. You must respect the laws of the host country. It is impossible to provide deliberately false information.
Approaching this topic in a comprehensive way, one cannot but take into account and note the human everyday aspect - it is expensive to give birth abroad. Although in Russia there are private clinics where it is not cheaper. Every Russian person, including a diplomat, is guaranteed a free delivery service. To do this, in the period in question, it was necessary to go to Russia and give birth in Moscow or in another city, where the person came from. If a person works far away, additional difficulties arose because they had to make a choice: either in the first months of pregnancy, leave the family that works abroad (go to the mother, if the parents are alive, or somehow get home at home and give birth), or wait until the last, to be with the family, and fly already back to back, but this carries risks for childbirth. Again, this is not an excuse for what they have done - it is an explanation of the thoughts that arose among families who decided on such a step.
We perfectly understand this problem. The Russian leadership has treated us with understanding and support. At the initiative of President Vladimir Putin, the State Duma adopted the Law on the specifics of the passage of the federal state civil service in the system of the Russian Foreign Ministry from 9 in July 2010, according to which the Russian state has paid for birth obstetrics for RZU on-site in the host country for two years. I hope that those “skeletons” that our overseas colleagues have saved up with 2004 will no longer be needed, and we will continue to do everything so that our people, working abroad, do not think about some “loopholes” bypassing the legislation, and relied on their state.