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Introductory speech by Sergey Lavrov, and his answers to questions from the mass media during the press conference summarising the results of the negotiations with the Armenian Foreign Minister, Edward Nalbandian, Moscow, 18 November 2013

21-11-2013, 16:21

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have conducted negotiations with Edward Nalbandian and our colleagues, which we view as one of the key stages of preparation for the forthcoming visit of the President Vladimir Putin to the Republic of Armenia at the beginning of December. We discussed the implementation of the agreements, which were reached at the Moscow meeting of the two presidents on the 3 September. During the summit, our heads reviewed the entire spectrum of cooperation in the trade, economic, humanitarian, military and technical areas, as well as in key organisations within the framework of the CSTO and CIS. As you know, the Armenian party adopted a decision regarding Yerevan’s accession to the Customs Union (CU), which was announced by the President of Armenia. This decision was supported by the President of the Russian Federation. Today, we can say that the process of implementation of required formalities, the initiation of necessary negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Union,is proceeding at full speed. Russia will contribute to its prompt completion in all possible ways.

We are satisfied that the large amount of work conducted allowed us to adopt several joint documents with our CU partners, which are related to Armenia’s accession process, during the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the end of October in Minsk. A Memorandum on deepening of interaction was concluded between Armenia and the EurAsEC for the development of these agreements. Thus, the process initiated by the Presidents of Russia and Armenian, Vladimir Putin and Serzh Sargsyan, is gaining momentum.

Russia always believes in the allied nature of its partnership in its relations with the Republic of Armenia. Evidence of this is not only the high level of political dialogue between the two countries, but also the substantial contacts at governmental, interparliamentary, interagency and interregional level. The positive dynamics of economic ties are also proof of this. The volume of mutual turnover, which reached 1.2 billion US dollars in 2012, tends to grow sustainably.

Investment activities are growing. Current Russian capital investments in the Armenian economy exceed 3 billion US dollars,with large-scale projects, primarily in the transport, energy, and telecommunication areas.Interregional cooperation is also extending. At the beginning of December the third Interregional forumwill be held, which will provide results in terms of new agreements between Russian regions (70 Russian constituent entities in cooperation with Armenia participate) and their Armenian partners.

We discussed tasks for further improvement and strengthening of the contractual legal framework of our cooperation. A package of documents is being prepared which embraces areas of military and technical, trade and economic, and investment interaction, as well as the cultural and humanitarian areas, including contacts between young people, which are of large importance to us. We note with satisfaction the growth of interest amongst Armenian youths in Russianstudies, their aspiration to obtain Russian higher education, including withacting branches of our higher education institutions in Armenia.

Of course, we always devote attention to close coordination of our actions in regional and international arenas. We are allies and are guided by the agreements on mutual action, which are adopted within the framework of the CSTO. We regularly receive updated collective instructions, by which representatives of international organisations are guided. We act in unison in the majority of regional and international problems.

We noted the effectiveness of the work of acting mechanisms of interministerial consultation, not only within the ambit of the CIS and the CSTO, but also on a bilateral basis. We agreed to prepare another plan of mutual consultations between the Russian-Armenian foreign ministries for 2014-2015, which will embrace all the areas of our interaction, including the strengthening of our coordination in the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, BSEC, in the near future.

I can note that Armenia has just successfully ended its half year presidency of the Council of Europe. This period was marked by some very intensive work, aimed at strengthening this general European arena as a universal international legal field, shared by every country, irrespective of whether or not they are members of some sub-regional organisation. Armenia also ends its presidency of the BSEC, within the framework of which Russia also actively supports the programme proposed by Yerevan. Our joint task is for members of this organisation to have priority in defining lines of interaction in this important region. The participation of non-regional countries, which are parties to the BSEC, is welcomed, if their goal is to contribute to the priorities defined by the Black Sea countries and members of this organisation, in general.

We discussed issues of security-building and stability in Transcaucasia, including the problem of the Nagorny Karabakh settlement. Within the framework of our bilateral relations with Yerevan and Baku, as well as in the multilateral format, Russia, as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, aspires to play an important role in contributing to the creation of conditions for the sought aftersolutions, which will be based on agreements already reached between co-chairs and with the participation of the countries which are final decision-makers, i.e. Armenia and Azerbaijan. We expect that direct contacts between Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities will renew in the near future. Russia will assist in all possible ways in the creation of the required atmosphere to achieve settlement of this conflict, on the basis of the agreements already reached and in the form which is acceptable to the countries involved.

In general, the negotiations we have conducted have been very good. We understand our immediate objective and the common line of our long-term goal, which was set by our heads.

Question (to both ministers): Several hours ago, it was announced that the heads of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet tomorrow after almost a two year break. Do you have any specific expectations for this meeting?

Sergey Lavrov (answers after Edward Nalbandian): The meeting will be held between the presidents of the two countries, while the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will be near to them. As a foreign minister of a co-chair country, I can say that we have hopes about this meeting, primarily, because, as you stated in your question, it will be the first meeting in almost two years. The direct contact between presidents is of key importance for the renewal of the atmosphere, which is required to continue negotiations, and find mutually acceptable consent.

Naturally, Russia as a co-chair country, together with the United States and France, is committed to the positions laid down in several statements of the presidents of the three countries reflecting the assurance of the co-chairs regards the principles by which we should guide ourselves in reachingagreements. The last statement adopted by the presidents of Russia, the United States and France, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and Francois Hollande, on the side-lines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, is another document in the series of such documents. It highlights the lack of alternatives for the political settlement of the conflict and an appeal to the parties to confirm their commitment to the fundamental principles of the OSCE, primarily, the ones included in the Helsinki Act. We stick to this position and hope that this appeal will be heard by Armenia and Azerbaijan, and that the co-chairs will think about the possibilities of further advancement of the negotiation process.

Question: A delegation from the Syrian government has arrived in Moscow today. Have any meetings taken place? Do you plan to welcome this delegation? The leader of the National Coalition for the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, (NC) Ahmad al-Jarba, refused to come to Moscow. Does Moscow still have hopes to organise a meeting between the NC and the government.

Sergey Lavrov: If I have heard you right, at the end of your “presentation” you asked whether we still expect to have a meeting between the coalition and the government in Moscow?

We are talking about the entire Syrian opposition, while the National Coalition is only a part of it. The NC is quite a powerful group of people, the majority of whom emigrated from Syria some time ago, and work from abroad, whilst taking into consideration the strong support provided to them by some countries of the region and the West. At the same time, to make the Geneva conference proposed by Russia and the United States truly compliant with the criteria set, including in the UNSC resolution, about the need to ensure the participation of a wide range of Syrian groups and of the population in the Syria-wide dialogue, other opposition associations, including those, which worked and continue to work inside the SAR – the National Coordination Committee, and the Kurdish organisations, must also participate in it.

When we made our proposition, we assumed that we would invite all the opposition to help them form, ideally, a single delegation, because it is always easier when each party is represented by only one delegation. This is our preference. However, in any case, the opposition partyat the conference must be representative to a maximum extent. This was the objective of our idea to gather them all in Moscow, to help the efforts undertaken by the United States, to unite the opposition on a constructive platform for the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué. It envisaged a discussion at Syrian only level, without external interference, but, with the support of “external players”, of the entire set of issues arising in connection with the Syrian crisis: putting a stop to the bloodshed and other violence, freeing of detainees and captured persons; contributing to the solution of the severest humanitarian problems and, of course, the political process of coordination on the basis of a mutually acceptable framework, between the opposition and the government, on the stages and the content of transitional processes and the composition of the structures which will lead in these processes. This is an internal Syrian case.

I can note that a few days ago Mikhail Bogdanov, Special Representative of the President for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, met the opposition in Istanbul. He had an individual meeting with the majority of the leaders of the National Coalition. They are not refusing to come to Moscow, they are studying our invitation.

Moreover, I think that our initiative is already working, because the NC has agreed with one Kurdish organisation to form joint approaches and has already made contacts with the National Coordination Committee – the largest internal Syrian opposition group. We welcome these processes.

If our proposition to meet in Moscow (we confirm it) is in demand, we will attempt to consolidate these positive trends. However, in fact, now we feel much more realism in the approach to Geneva-2 from those, who are members of the National Coalition, and from several of ourforeign partners. Just one thought, I will not hide it, there is still reason to believe that some “external players” are attempting, to put it mildly, to complicate the preparations for this conference. We are continuing our work.

As to the delegation of the Syrian government, which is currently in Moscow, I plan to meet them, when they complete the main portion of their programme. It would be important to hear their feelings. We are working with the SAR Government on a daily basis, we support their readiness, which they have announced many times, to participate in the Geneva conference without any preconditions and to fully implement the provisions of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012.

We are working with the Syrian government intensively, stimulating it to further and closer cooperation with international humanitarian organisations, which provide aid to Syrian civilians, which they need so much, in the form of food, medicinal products and essentials. We also are in constant contact with international organisations, which deal with supplies of such aid. In general, they are satisfied with their cooperation with the authorities, although they would like more responsiveness from them on some issues. We attempt to assist them in this.

The main difficulties with the supply of humanitarian aid (international humanitarian agencies acknowledge this) are caused by the actions of militants, who are grouped into split units, are subordinate to different external sponsors (and sometimes to nobody) and who create serious difficulties in the supply of aid, by attacking convoys, and blocking entire cities, as they have now, when a city in the region inhabited by Kurds (in the north of the SAR) is blocked and all access channels to it are closed.

We will continue talking about this with opposition groups and the Syrian government, and, of course, with our external partners, who influence different opposition groups. Without such a complex and comprehensive approach, it will be hard to create the necessary conditions to address Geneva-2, when it is convened, to the solution of practical tasks rather than attempts to look for another pretext to advance slogans for overthrowing the regime by any means.


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  • 477: 30 seconds to mars. Introductory speech by Sergey Lavrov, and his answers to questions from the mass media during the press conference summarising the results of the negotiations with the Armenian Foreign Minister, Edward Nalbandian, Moscow, 18 November 201321 November 2013: Introductory speech by Sergey Lavrov, and his answers to questions from the mass media during the press conference summarising the results of the negotiations with the Armenian Foreign Minister, Edward Nalbandian, Moscow, 18 November 2013!
    лучшие комедии. Introductory speech by Sergey Lavrov, and his answers to questions from the mass media during the press conference summarising the results of the negotiations with the Armenian Foreign Minister, Edward Nalbandian, Moscow, 18 November 2013.
    Introductory speech by Sergey Lavrov, and his answers to questions from the mass media during the press conference summarising the results of the negotiations with the Armenian Foreign Minister, Edward Nalbandian, Moscow, 18 November 2013