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Ladies and Gentlemen,

Foreign ministers of the Caspian states have held a conference in preparation of the Fourth Caspian Summit, which will be held this year in the Russian Federation.

We reviewed the course of work on the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea and stated significant progress, which was reached also in the process of today’s negotiations. I would like to sincerely thank my colleagues and all the experts for their contribution to this significant progress.

We reviewed draft documents many of which have been developed and which are planned to be approved at the Fourth Caspian Summit. We devoted special attention to the implementation of the assignments accepted at the Baku summit in 2010. First of all, these are issues related to the delimitation of water spaces. Our positions became significantly closer on this topic. The second assignment from leaders of our countries is related to the measures to preserve the population of endangered fish. Today we discussed the progress of work on the respective intergovernmental agreement.

As the standoff in the eastern Ukraine deteriorates into violence it’s up to world powers to step in and calm things down. Despite tough talk from Washington, the US, EU, Russia and Ukraine have managed to reach a framework to peace in Geneva. But will it be enough to avert a civil war? Sophie asks the Russian Foreign minister himself – Sergey Lavrov is on Sophie&Co today.

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Sophie Shevardnadze: Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign minister, it’s great to have you on our show today.

 

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you for the invitation.

SS: So, just the other day Joe Biden on his visit to Kiev said that time is short for Russia to make progress on its commitments made in Geneva. What is expected of Russia?

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen!

We have ended our meeting on the situation in Ukraine, which continued the series of contacts between the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and me. This time we gathered together with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and the Acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Andrii Deshchytsia. Like during our meetings with John Kerry in the bilateral format, our partners prefer separate press conferences. Therefore, I am alone with you, but they will tell about their impressions about the results of this meeting individually.

We approved a document – Geneva Statement of April 17, 2014, in which we agreed that we need to take primary and specific steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security of all Ukrainian nationals. We agreed that all sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. We strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism. These are very topical requirements in terms of the events in Ukraine in the last months.

Question: Hello, Sergey Viktorovich. I feel that now you are not just a Minister of Foreign Affairs, but a Minister of Military Affairs. Every time I see and hear you, I sense a tremendous concern and think the world has gone mad. My generation does not remember such a level of escalation. What is really happening?

Sergey Lavrov: I think that the entire world system is being reformatted, because after the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact disappeared, those whom we call “the West” lost their historical opportunities, when Russia proposed several initiatives, which would not only allow them to truly unite the European continent, but also the Euro-Atlantic region, including Eurasia. There were propositions to make the OSCE the centre of such work on the basis of equality of all countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We had some very productive negotiations with my Angolan colleague George Chicoti, which were held in the traditionalatmosphere of trust and mutual understanding between our countries.

We appreciate the high level of relations with Angola – Russia’s time-proven friend and partner. We are glad that this country has convincingly settled down to a course of independent and sustainable national development.

We discussed issues on our bilateral agenda, having devoted special attention to the development of trade and economic ties, which have gained in good dynamics and are developing according to the agreements, including high-level agreements, which were concluded in 2009.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have conducted another session of the CSTO Foreign Ministers Council, which was held in a constructive and trustworthy atmosphere and was quite substantial. We exchanged opinions on topical problems of regional and international security, primarily in the area of the Organisation’s responsibilities and in adjacent regions.

We paid special attention to the reinforcement of foreign policy coordination within the framework of the CSTO. The documents, which we have approved today, will contribute to this: The Plan of consultations of representatives of member states of the organisation on foreign policy, security and defence issues for the second half of 2014 – first half of 2015 (the Plan includes more than twenty measures) and the List of topics for joint statements of the CSTO member states in the UN, the OSCE and other forums. About ten topics have been agreed, on which a document for joint presentation to the respective multilateral structures will be prepared.

The profound and pervasive crisis in Ukraine is a matter of grave concern for Russia. We understand perfectly well the position of a country which became independent just over 20 years ago and still faces complex tasks in constructing a sovereign state. Among them is the search for a balance of interests among its various regions, the peoples of which have different historical and cultural roots, speak different languages and have different perspectives on their past and present, and their country's future place in the world.

Given these circumstances, the role of external forces should have been to help Ukrainians protect the foundations of civil peace and sustainable development, which are still fragile. Russia has done more than any other country to support the independent Ukrainian state, including for many years subsidising its economy through low energy prices. Last November, at the outset of the current crisis, we supported Kiev's wish for urgent consultations between Ukraine, Russia and the EU to discuss harmonising the integration process. Brussels flatly rejected it. This stand reflected the unproductive and dangerous line the EU and US have been taking for a long time. They have been trying to compel Ukraine to make a painful choice between east and west, further aggravating internal differences.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As far as I understand, you know about the progress of discussions at the Nuclear Security Summit (NNS). Final documents have been prepared, which will be published.

I would like to inform you about bilateral contacts. Today I had another meeting with the US Secretary of State John Kerry. We mainly talked about Ukraine. We highlighted again the need to fully respect the results of the referendum in Crimea. We talked about the need to take decisive measures to prevent atrocities by radicals and to include them in the political life of Ukraine. An agreement on this was reached on the 21 February, when President Viktor Yanukovych and the Opposition in the presence of three EU foreign ministers signed an agreement. This should not be dependent on any other conditions: there is no place for radicals in modern society. We also discussed the need to appeal to the Ukrainian authorities, formed by the Verkhovna Rada, to devote the most serious attention to the constitutional reform, which takes into account the interests of every Ukrainian region and fully reflects these interests in the state order.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We had an intensive day of negotiations with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry. We reviewed the situation in Ukraine in detail. We and our American partners are worried about this situation. We stated our well-known position with regard to the events, and its causes, and the measures which must be undertaken by the international community in order to help start a comprehensive national dialogue. Its aim should be one of overcoming the deep split in the society and establishing a constitutional reform which we agree takes into account the interests of all Ukrainian regions.

Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who briefed him on the proposals for settling the situation in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Lavrov, I wanted to hear about the results of your contacts with your colleagues, your US and European colleagues, about the situation in Ukraine. I asked you, in response to the US request, to invite [US] Secretary of State Mr Kerry, who wanted to come to

Sergey Lavrov: Mr President, as you instructed, the contacts are continuing. We had contacts throughout the last week in Europe. A series of international events took place there, in which John Kerry, the foreign ministers of the main European countries – France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain – and the