20 February 2017
Moscow: 01:23
London: 22:23

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Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, February 15, 2017

Visit by UN Secretary General Special’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to Russia


On February 16, Moscow will host talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. The meeting will be held in the run-up to the inter-Syrian talks scheduled to convene in Geneva on February 23 under UN auspices. Mr Lavrov and Mr de Mistura will exchange views on the full range of issues related to the Syria settlement, including progress in the so-called Astana process launched by Russia, Turkey and Iran to facilitate talks between the Syrian Government and the Syrian armed opposition.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov will hold a separate meeting with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

In its contacts with the UN Envoy, Russia will focus on ensuring that the February 23 inter-Syrian talks in Geneva under UN auspices strictly comply with the parameters set forth in UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which provides for inclusive and equal participation of various segments of the Syrian opposition. We believe this to be the only way to achieve progress in settling the crisis in Syria and reaching agreements reflecting the interests of all segments of the Syrian population.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend G20 foreign ministers’ meeting


On February 16-17, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Bonn, Germany. The meeting will be held as part of Germany’s G20 Presidency in 2017.

The general subject of the meeting chosen by its hosts will be ‘Foreign Policy Beyond Crisis Settlement.’ The conversation is expected to focus on foreign policy goals regarding global governance, taking into account UN’s role, especially UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, conflict prevention and implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, as well as cooperation with Africa.

What this means is that the G20 countries are becoming increasingly active in their foreign policy efforts not only when it comes to settling crises, but also working together to come up with solutions to global challenges in the long run. Russia shares these global priorities and supports efforts to find coordinated approaches to dealing with the root causes of crises the world is facing today, as well as devising lasting solutions to political and economic issues.

The upcoming meeting and its topic are consistent with the trend of opening up the G20 agenda to issues at the confluence of politics and economics. Apart from the financial and economic block, which remains at the core of the G20 agenda, there is growing attention in this forum to issues like countering financing of terrorism, fighting corruption, resolving the refugee crisis, international information security, promoting development, and fighting climate change. Taking all this into account, the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting appears to be quite relevant.

Overall, Russia has a positive view of the priorities put forward by the German Presidency in this forum in all areas of cooperation. There is certain continuity with the Chinese Presidency, especially on issues like the digital economy, innovations and the 2030 Agenda.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that apart from the UN, the G20 has become an essential platform for coordinating the positions of the leading states. Russia believes that this format could be used to achieve progress in key areas such as ensuring sustainable economic growth, coordinating approaches to structural macroeconomic reforms, stimulating investment, strengthening multilateral trade and making it more open.

Russia is committed to remaining proactive in this area. Specifically, Russia is preparing to take part in a number of ministerial meetings, as well as the Leaders’ Summit, the highlight of Germany’s G20 Presidency, scheduled to take place on July 7-8, 2017 in Hamburg.


Events on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting and the Munich Security Conference


Many bilateral meetings and contacts between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his counterparts are planned on the sidelines of the events. I am prepared to comment on them today.

On February 16, Foreign Minister Lavrov will meet with Foreign Minister of Germany Sigmar Gabriel, in Bonn. We are working on arrangements for a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. There is a possibility of a meeting with our Chinese counterparts. Arrangements are being made for a meeting with the foreign ministers of Brazil and South Africa. These are the meetings I can confirm at the moment. More meetings are possible considering that the forum will be attended by foreign ministers of twenty countries. We will keep you informed about additional contacts and, of course, their results. We are currently planning meetings for February 17 with the foreign ministers of Italy and Japan on the sidelines of the forum. Once again, more meetings are possible.

Also, during the Munich Security Conference, a significant number of bilateral and multilateral meetings are expected. On February 17, Foreign Minister Lavrov will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif.

On February 18, bilateral contacts in Munich will continue. Minister Lavrov will participate in a traditional meeting with representatives of the Russian and German business communities. A meeting is planned with President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Foreign Minister of Croatia Davor Ivo Stier, Foreign Minister of South Korea Yun Byung-se, Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of Slovakia Miroslav Lajcak, and Foreign Minister of France Jean-Marc Ayrault. Also for February 18, a meeting in the Normandy format is being organised. There is a possibility of it happening. We will be able to confirm the date and exact time later. Contacts with Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, are planned for the same day. We are bringing together a meeting with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, and several other meetings.

Let me point out again that these are the meetings we are still working on and the schedule may change. We will keep you informed.


To be continued...


20.02.2017 - Sergey Lavrov’s answer to a media question on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, February 18, 2017

Question: How do you feel about the questions? Were they easy, as usual? Sergey Lavrov: They were predictable, given our Western colleagues’ fixation on seeing Russia as the only party responsible for the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. Their fixation on this cybersecurity and cyber espionage agenda is equally and utterly incomprehensible. Not a single fact implicating Russia has been cited in the presence of a number of facts pointing in a different direction towards the real source of this unlawful activity. We are doing our best to make our position clear.

20.02.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following a G20 ministerial meeting and the Munich Security Conference, Munich, February 18, 2017

Our meetings in Germany are almost over. We spent a day and a half in Bonn and two days in Munich, at a meeting of the G20 foreign ministers in Bonn and the annual international security conference in Munich, which is nearing completion. You attended my speech there, and today I am ready to answer your questions if you have any.

17.02.2017 - Concept paper on the Joint Group (Agreed on as the outcome of the International Meeting on Syria in Astana, February 16. 2017)

The Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey (hereinafter – the Parties) pursuant to the Joint Statement on the International Meeting on Syria in Astana (January 23-24, 2017, Kazakhstan) decide to establish the Joint Group as part of a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure foil compliance with the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic; prevent provocations; determine all modalities of the ceasefire, including separating terrorist groups ISIL/DAESH and "Al-Nusra Front" from the armed opposition groups in order to consolidate the ceasefire regime; strengthen confidence-building measures and discuss other related issues that can contribute to the UN-sponsored intra-Syrian negotiations on a political solution based on UN Security Council resolution 2254.

17.02.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comment and answers to media questions following talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Bonn, February 16, 2017

We have held a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It was a pragmatic and business-like meeting, which I would describe as productive in that we compared our views on prospects for working together in the areas which our presidents discussed in principle during their telephone conversation on January 28. We reaffirmed the existence of similar or identical interests, primarily with regard to the irreconcilable struggle against terrorism in the context of our cooperation within the political settlement in Syria and other countries where terrorism has taken root. We also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Our American partners have expressed interest in joining the efforts that are being taken to settle these conflicts.

16.02.2017 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Moscow, February 16, 2017

I would like to welcome you in Moscow in a very timely visit. And just on the eve of the long-awaited, long-expected resumption of the negotiations in accordance with the Resolution 2254 in Geneva and just on the very day when another round of consultations is being held in Astana in the context of the meeting between the Government and opposition with mediation of the Russian Federation, Iran and Turkey.

16.02.2017 - Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

On February 16, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks in Moscow with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura ahead of the upcoming intra-Syrian talks in Geneva under the aegis of the UN, scheduled for February 23.

15.02.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko congratulates Ambassador Elliott

Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Dr Alexander Yakovenko sent a message to former Ambassador of Ghana to the USSR Mr John Banks Elliott, now living in Britain, to congratulate him on his 100 birthday and Russian Diplomats' Day. During his tenure as the first Ghanaian Ambassador to Moscow, Mr Elliott witnessed and participated in many foreign policy events which now became history, and made an outstanding contribution to bilateral ties and USSR-Africa relations.

14.02.2017 - Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s reply to a media question regarding transit trade in the South Caucasus

Question: It has been reported that during their recent meeting in Prague, State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Special Envoy of the Georgian Prime Minister for Relations with Russia Zurab Abashidze discussed the Russian-Georgian agreement on customs administration and trade monitoring dated November 9, 2011. Can you comment on the statement by the South Ossetian Foreign Ministry to the effect that the issue of transit via South Ossetia must be negotiated with the republic’s authorities? Maria Zakharova: This position of South Ossetia is absolutely legitimate. The 2011 agreement between Russia and Georgia does not provide for other countries’ obligations. The customs administration and trade monitoring measures stipulated in this agreement are applicable exclusively on the territory of Russia and Georgia. The terms for the transit of commodities under it should be negotiated additionally with the transit countries.

13.02.2017 - Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov’s interview with Izvestia newspaper, published on February 13, 2017

Question: In 2016, a wave of terror attacks swept across Europe and the US. This year also started with attacks in Europe, and terrorism is still an issue for everyone, Russia included. Vladimir Putin has said on numerous occasions that we can overcome terrorism only by working together. When will the West understand that in order to overcome this common scourge what the world needs is to form a broad coalition? Oleg Syromolotov: You are absolutely right: in order to fight international terrorism the world does need a broad coalition that would be guided in its actions by the UN Charter, international law and UN Security Council resolutions. Destroying ISIS is a priority as far as counter-terrorist efforts are concerned. Everyone understands that. However, countries tend to adopt different approaches to achieving this aim due to their differences, primarily disagreements on political matters. Some go as far as supporting various kinds of terrorist groups, thinking that they will be able to control them, which is a huge mistake. As a result, they tend to fall into the same trap over and over again.

13.02.2017 - Comment by the Foreign Ministry Press and Information Department on the North Korean missile test

We consider the North Korean missile test, conducted on February 12, another demonstrative act of ignoring the UN Security Council resolutions on this subject. In this context, we cannot but express our regret and concern.

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