Ladies and gentlemen,
Venezuela is one of Russia's key partners in Latin America. We are united by relations of friendship, cooperation, a high degree of mutual understanding, readiness to help each other, coordinate approaches on a wide range of issues of mutual interest.
Today we have reviewed all areas of our partnership, touched on its trade and economic component. However, this topic will be discussed in detail in the framework of the X meeting of the High-Level Intergovernmental Commission to be held tomorrow (E.Haua from the Venezuelan side, and D. Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade from the Russian side) will co-chair the commission.
We exchanged views on the implementation of the Consultation Plan between the foreign ministries of our countries for the period 2011-2014. All provided activities are carried out. In addition to the scheduled consultations, ongoing contacts are made on any issues that arise that require urgent coordination. Today we have signed a new solid document - the Consultation Plan for the next four years - (2015-2018), which is designed to further deepen the interaction between the foreign affairs agencies.
We reaffirmed our solidarity with the Government of N.Maduro in his efforts to overcome in Venezuela the known difficulties in establishing a national dialogue with the assistance of the Union of South American Nations and the Vatican, and to promote the negotiation process between the government and the constructively-minded opposition. We presume that all issues should be resolved exclusively in the constitutional field without any outside interference, including sanctions or the threat of their use. Today we have firmly stated this, and this topic will be reflected in a separate report on the results of today's talks.
In international affairs, we have similar approaches on key issues, primarily in terms of strengthening the central coordinating role of the UN, respecting its decisions, the need for a collective search for answers to the challenges and threats of our time, rejecting illegal unilateral actions and claims to someone else’s exclusivity and permissiveness.
We are grateful to partners for the continued support of Russian initiatives in the UN. I will especially emphasize the firm support of Venezuela together with a large group of other states of the Russian resolution, which we annually promote at the UN General Assembly, to prevent the glorification of Nazism and to counteract tendencies that, unfortunately, are becoming increasingly common in Europe and - as such watch - in Ukraine.
Regarding regional issues, Russia reaffirmed its interest in Latin America, whose authority and influence in world affairs is growing, becoming an important factor in the process of shaping a more equitable, democratic and polycentric world order system. Our relations with Latin America are multifaceted. In addition to bilateral relations with almost every state in the region, we are actively developing a platform for interaction with integration associations on the continent. We are preparing an agreement on the creation of a political dialogue mechanism with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Interested in developing contacts with the South American Common Market (MERCOSUR) both within the Russian Federation and between MERCOSUR and integration associations in the Eurasian space (I mean the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union being established from 1 in January 2015, today in Astana the relevant Agreement is signed).
We discussed the situation in Ukraine. They stressed the need for the earliest possible cessation of the use of the army against the population and any other violence, the launch in the near future of an all-Ukrainian dialogue in order to ensure security, the rights and interests of all citizens without exception, and to carry out a constitutional reform that would balance the interests of all Ukrainians and regions of this country. We are grateful to Venezuela for its responsible and principled position on the Ukrainian issue in international forums, including with the March 27 vote this year. at the UNGA meeting.
Today we recalled historical the role played by W. Chavez - a great and sincere friend of Russia - in building up strategic partnership between our countries. This July marks the 60th anniversary of his birth. In this regard, a number of commemorative events are being prepared in Russia and Venezuela. The 60th anniversary of the birth of U. Chavez will be timed to coincide with the release of the Russian postage stamp. I handed E.Haua a sketch of such a brand, which, in my opinion, he liked.
I am convinced that the talks held today will further deepen our partnership for the benefit of our countries and peoples.
Question (to both ministers): Russia and Venezuela, under President U. Chavez, established unprecedented bilateral relations. What are their prospects in the economic, political and humanitarian spheres?
Lavrov (answers after E. Howe): I support what was said by Minister E. Howe. Relations between our countries are strategic partnerships. They are multifaceted and cover all spheres of state activity and intercourse of peoples. There is a high-level Intergovernmental Russian-Venezuelan Commission, which is engaged in the targeted development of trade, economic and investment ties and the provision of state support for business activities. These efforts produce results. I am confident that tomorrow, following the meeting of the Commission, we will learn about additional agreements that will advance our strategic partnership in the economic sphere.
The central direction is energy. There are already a number of projects in the oil and gas sector, exploration of deposits (including on the shelf) and their joint development, electric power industry and other areas.
Banking cooperation is intensified: a joint banking institution is being created. Develop credit relations. There is cooperation in the implementation of housing projects, which is so necessary to implement the plans of the Venezuelan leadership in this area. Training for civilian specialties and law enforcement agencies of Venezuela, as well as in the military line, is expanding. The presence of Venezuelan Minister of Defense K.Melendez in the delegation that arrived today in Moscow underlines the importance of our joint cooperation in this area: the exchange of experience, mutual participation in exercises and, as I said, the training of military personnel. We hope that our Venezuelan colleagues will take part in the next tank biathlon, which the Ministry of Defense of Russia plans to hold for the summer of this year.
Special attention is paid to humanitarian contacts between our countries. We will do everything so that the free visit regime for citizens, which now exists, helped to establish new contacts, including in the field of art and literature.
Our countries are developing tourism. There are many untapped reserves in this area, but all of this is in our plans.
As for interaction in the international arena, we have already spoken about this. We have regular intensive contacts that allow “checking clocks” at all stages in real time regarding the implementation of agreements reached during the visit of Venezuelan President N.Maduro to Russia in July 2013. and on the basis of the regular exchange of messages and telephone conversations between the leaders of our countries.
Question: What is the position of Russia regarding what the Government of Venezuela, in particular President N.Maduro, should have done against US interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela?
Lavrov: Any leader who respects his people, whatever country he leads, will oppose interference in the internal affairs of his state. There is nothing surprising. Non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states is one of the principles on which the UN Charter is based, and we are consistently upholding it. It does not mean that everyone needs to close off from the outside world and not show what is happening in your country. On the contrary, openness has nothing to do with an invitation to interfere in internal affairs. Russia and Venezuela are open to the outside world. We want to see how our people solve their tasks, so that our nations can be friends with each other, make as many exchanges as possible through civil society, but so that these exchanges are honest and as open as our contact proposals. We want to develop ties in order to strengthen friendship, cooperation, and implement mutually beneficial undertakings - we are “in favor” with two hands, we will fully support any such initiatives. When this openness is used to promote someone else's agenda, for which the citizens of Russia, Venezuela and any other state subject to external interference did not vote, this is a violation of the UN Charter and the laws of the country in respect of which such attempts are made.
Question: Yesterday, in his speech, US President B.Obama stated that the actions of the USA and its allies allowed to isolate Russia in the international arena due to the crisis in Ukraine. How could you comment on these words?
Lavrov: For a long time I will not comment. Russian President Vladimir Putin the other day, answering a similar question, said that it is impossible to isolate a country like Russia. This is an unrealistic task, and even setting it fails.
In order to understand whether it was possible to isolate Russia, it was enough to visit the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, see a huge number of guests from various foreign countries and feel the atmosphere of this event, in which two things prevailed: extremely businesslike mood and sense of humor. The combination of these two factors provides an answer to the question of whether someone succeeded in isolating Russia.
Question: Yesterday, Vladimir I. Churkin, the Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, said that it was necessary for the organization to intervene and, in particular, directly its Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. In what form, from the point of view of the Russian side, can this UN intervention be carried out?
Lavrov: We do not impose a concrete form, but we clearly feel the need for additional push from the international community.
The agreement of 21 February of this year. between V.F. Yanukovych and the three opposition leaders at that time was supported by European ministers, but was not carried out in any way and was actually thrown out a day after it was signed, when a coup d'etat took place. The Geneva document from 17 of April of this year, drawn up with the participation of Russia, the USA and the EU, is also not being implemented. On the basis of this document, the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship prepared a “road map”, promulgating it after visiting Moscow 7 this May. President of Switzerland D. Burkhalter. She was supported by all, except for the Ukrainian government, who said that they have their own “road map”, which largely overlaps with the Swiss one, but also has its own special features. If we compare these documents, the difference there, first of all, is that Ukrainians do not bring to the fore the cessation of violence in those actions that the international community expects of it.
The last statement from the Kiev leaders, to our great regret and many other partners, indicates that they want to complete (it is not clear what) the so-called. "Anti-terrorist" operation. There are continuing reports of deaths and problems with OSCE monitors. Until now, as I have already said several times, the memorandum between Ukraine and the OSCE has not been ratified, enshrining the responsibility of the host country to ensure the security and immunities of the observers of this Organization.
It turns out that we cannot achieve the implementation of the signed documents from February 21 and April 17, the “road map”, the ratification of the document fixing the status of international observers in Ukraine. Simple persuasion is not to get things moving. More effective mediation efforts are needed to stop the violence, including, first of all, the punitive operation, and start a mutually respectful dialogue, without labeling.
After the statement of the new Ukrainian authorities about the readiness to talk with everyone except terrorists and separatists, even the OSCE representatives called upon the Kiev leaders not to use such terms, but to engage in dialogue, try to hear and understand all representatives of the regions, without exception, demanding very specific and understandable things: elect leaders in the regions; use Russian and other minority languages in Ukraine; large powers, including in the use of funds received from taxation. Why it is impossible to speak about this frankly and mutually respectful, why to start such a conversation, you must first win, essentially, in a civil war and how much it will help create the necessary atmosphere for negotiations — there are no answers to these questions.
Of course, the most important part of the process, which should be started as soon as possible, is the investigation of crimes committed in Ukraine. Within the Council of Europe, there is a group set up to investigate the 18-20 events of February of this year. on the Maidan. The other day, P. Poroshenko declared his readiness to expand the powers of this group to investigate the tragedies of Odessa and Mariupol, to invite international experts from Germany and other EU countries, Russia, Israel to participate in these events, but nothing happens. Conversations remain conversations. On May 19, I sent letters to the UN Secretary-General, the Secretary-General and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, the Secretary General of the CoE, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling for an impartial international investigation, given the enormous Ukrainian and international resonance of what happened in Odessa. Yesterday we reminded the heads of the respected organizations mentioned above. At a minimum, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon could be persistent in making the investigation of the Odessa tragedy transparent, impartial and fair. This is one specific question as a wish, and I am sure that he is on the shoulder of the leader of a leading international Organization.