Portuguese Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs Luis Amado visits Moscow, April 13-15, 2009

Transcript of Remarks and Response to Media Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Joint Press Conference Following Talks with Portuguese Minister for Foreign Affairs Luis Amado, Moscow, April 14, 2009


Esteemed colleagues,

During our talks we have noted with satisfaction the reciprocal and firm intention of the leaderships of Russia and Portugal to deepen further our mutually advantageous many-sided cooperation. We hope that the upcoming session in June this year in Moscow of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Industrial and Technical Cooperation – despite the difficulties objectively arising in connection with the global financial and economic crisis – will help outline additional ways for the further expansion of proposed collaboration.

We have thoroughly discussed the state of affairs on the European continent, including the initiative of President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev to craft a European Security Treaty, the prospects for deepening the partnership between Russia and the European Union, and the situation in the Russia-NATO Council. We appreciate the position of Portugal in favor of the development of constructive cooperation in all these areas.

We also discussed conditions in different crisis and conflict points in Europe and adjacent regions. In particular, special attention was devoted to the situation surrounding Afghanistan, which disturbs all of us and which we all want to actively help resolve. It is gratifying that the positions of Russia and Portugal coincide here too.

By and large today’s talks have confirmed the trustful, comradely nature of our relations. We appreciate this and will approach the further development of bilateral cooperation in just this way.

Question: What contribution can Portugal and Russia make to the settlement of the situations that we see today, for example, in Georgia and Moldova?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: I think that a contribution to the settlement of this or that situation in the space of Europe, in the OSCE space, is important primarily from the vantage point of ensuring observance of the principles on the basis of which we all agreed to settle any conflicts. In August last year, one of the fundamental international principles was grossly violated; I mean the inadmissibility of the use of force and of an undermining of one’s obligations concerning a peaceful settlement and peacekeeping activities. We know what this led to. It is our belief that today it is necessary in the first place to seek a clear affirmation by all states of the principle of the nonuse of force and of the inadmissibility of reneging on one’s obligations regarding settlement of some or other conflicts.

As to the situation that has evolved in Moldova, in this case there was violated another fundamental principle, that of respect for the free expression of the people’s will in elections, especially in the elections that were acknowledged to be in line with existing norms on the whole. We expect that the situation will stabilize, including with regard to the proposal made by the President of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, concerning a vote recount. Hopefully all opposition parties will show a responsible approach and will not allow violent actions of their supporters anymore. In this connection, undoubtedly, a special responsibility also lies on the EU, given the circumstances that attended the recent riots and pogroms in Chisinau.

Question: Today the MFA has already expressed regret over the DPRK’s withdrawal from the six-party talks and resumption of its nuclear program. What consequences can these actions have for Pyongyang? Will Russia initiate an international forum to discuss this problem?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: The UN Security Council has indeed adopted a Presidential Statement by consensus. It is not a resolution. In our opinion, this form of reaction is optimal in the present conditions. I will especially note that the People’s Republic of China was a cosponsor of the draft statement. We particularly rely upon its opinions and judgments, considering that China chairs and coordinates the six-party process to settle the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem. Together with China we had repeatedly recommended that the DPRK should not conduct experiments with rocket launches, foreseeing the inevitable negative reaction of neighboring countries and the world community. Unfortunately, these recommendations went unheeded. The statement envisages no sanctions, it only contains an instruction to the long-standing committee of the UN Security Council to continue work on the basis of the powers that it has in accordance with the previous decisions.

A new international forum on the situation on the Korean Peninsula does not need to be created. There is the generally recognized forum which is called six-party talks. Within the framework of this forum important accords have been adopted that impose obligations on all its participants. This concerns not only the DPRK, but all the other countries as well. I mean the states which have pledged to provide the DPRK with economic and energy assistance. Russia has fulfilled all its obligations under these accords. We expect the other participant countries which have not yet done so to act in the same way. I stress that the statement adopted by the Security Council contains a direct appeal to all participants of the six-party process to fulfill all of their obligations.

On the whole we hope that, despite the various emotions inevitable in such situations, the process of six-party talks will be resumed very soon. It is necessary to continue moving towards a goal agreed on by all of us, that of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Question: In what stage is the question of abolishing the visa regime between Russia and the EU?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: As to the question of abolishing the visa regime between Russia and the EU, the initiative in raising this question belongs to former European Commission President Romano Prodi, who way back in 2004 at the Russia-EU summit in Moscow said that it was quite possible to come to an agreement on the abolition of visas for mutual trips of Russian and EU citizens over the course of several years. President Dmitry Medvedev supports that approach. There is in our contacts with the European Union a special mechanism where discussions are under way on the conditions for a shift to a visa-free regime. At the meeting between the Government of Russia and the European Commission held in Moscow on February 6 this year, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin straightforwardly declared our readiness to abolish the visa regime in relations with the EU on a reciprocal basis even tomorrow, for example. Therefore the recent comments from Brussels that problems supposedly exist on both sides in the matter of shifting to a visa-free regime are incorrect. We hope that in the framework of the negotiation mechanism I’ve mentioned both sides will show a striving to move towards the goal that has a key significance for the development of the strategic partnership between Russia and the EU.

Question: How is the situation evolving around the three-year old girl Lisa Andre?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: You know that Lisa was born in Moscow in 2005 from a mixed marriage that ended in a divorce in 2007. By a decision of a Russian court, the child must live with her mother, but in the autumn of last year the girl was abducted by two unknown persons. Criminal proceedings were instituted in Russia in this connection, which are still not closed. As to the latest events, the French side has not informed us of any charges brought against Irina Belenkaya. Therefore, we believe the decision of Hungarian authorities to turn the little girl over to the French representatives was too hasty. We are dealing with an obviously complicated juridical collision when the judicial bodies of the two states took directly contrary decisions on one and the same issue. We intend in the nearest future – hopefully today – to invite the French side to hold concrete consultations with our lawyers. Undoubtedly, in addition to the meeting of Russian diplomats with Irina Belenkaya held today, the MFA of Russia will continue to do everything necessary to protect the interests of our citizens, Irina and her daughter Lisa. I am convinced that in this particular case it is necessary to be guided by the interests of the child in the first place. So far we expect that the French colleagues will respond to our proposal for legal consultations promptly and constructively.