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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

28.05.2019

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei, Moscow, May 27, 2019

Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei and I had a substantive discussion on bilateral issues of cooperation. 

Our countries are time-tested allies and strategic partners. Our fraternal peoples are linked by a common history, as well as cultural and spiritual roots. This year is special in Russian-Belarusian relations. In December it will be 20 years since the signing of the Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus. Cooperation within this framework is indeed comprehensive and the questions that inevitably arise during such an intensive dialogue are invariably resolved in the spirit of teamwork and mutual respect. We agreed to draft a list of events to celebrate this anniversary.

We analysed the implementation of the 2018-2019 Programme of coordinated foreign policy action by the member states of the Treaty establishing the Union State. We agree on the adoption of two-year programmes and consider them to be a fairly effective instrument for coordinating the actions of Moscow and Minsk, including within the UN, the OSCE and other international formats. We plan to sign the relevant document at the joint session of the collegiums of our foreign ministries that will take place next autumn. These are annual events for us. We meet in Moscow and in Minsk in turn.

We verified our positions in the context of the forthcoming meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Council in Nur-Sultan. We agreed that the Eurasian integration agreement has proven in practice that it is in high demand. The desire of many states and integration associations to cooperate with the EAEU is a graphic confirmation of this.

We agreed to continue providing diplomatic support for EAEU activities and to work on the development of the Greater Eurasian Partnership with the participation of all interested countries on our large continent – both the Asian and European parts.

We touched on the issue of relations with the European Union and supported their development exclusively on the principles of equality and mutual benefit. We hope that Brussels will fully consider the realities of Eurasian integration and start developing a systematic, sustainable dialogue between the European Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission.

We talked about the non-proliferation of weapons and expressed concern about increasing NATO activity near our borders. We noted that such steps lead to the escalation of tensions in the Euro-Atlantic Region. Russia and Belarus urge their Western partners to respect the principle of equal and indivisible security and comply with the relevant commitments, including those assumed by the OSCE. In brief, our common goal is to return to the fundamental principles of the Final Act and give it a new lease on life to overcome this crisis of confidence.

We reviewed the situation in Ukraine proceeding from the need to fully and consistently implement the Minsk Package of Measures that was approved by a UN Security Council resolution. Moscow hopes that the new Ukrainian government will display political will and that the process of settling the crisis in the country’s southeast will finally make progress.

We discussed many other foreign policy issues.

We are satisfied with the results of the talks. We will continue maintaining a close dialogue, in particular, we will prepare a joint session of foreign ministry collegiums.

Question: Did you discuss your work on the action plan to implement the provisions of the Union State Treaty? What do you think about the progress in this area in general? Can you name “the pain points” on which we are unable to agree as yet?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Vladimir Makei): No one questions the treaty. However, life has not stood still in the past 20 years. We must bring our practical moves in conformity with the provisions of the treaty, based on current realities.

I will answer your question on progress in the affirmative. Mr Makei just talked about it. I wouldn’t call “pain points” the remaining 30 percent, to use this phrase. These are simply issues that require a final review. I am convinced that solutions for all of them will be found. It is also well known that we resolve issues on a daily basis given the tremendous scale of economic, trade and other exchanges. Both sides recognise the strategic importance of the programme of action that is being drafted. It is in the common, fundamental interests of Russia and Belarus to find agreements on the remaining issues.

Question: When do Russia and Belarus plan to sign an agreement on the mutual recognition of visas?  Could this be signed before the end of 2019?

Sergey Lavrov: We talked about this today as well as about other documents that are being worked on. There are a lot of them. Our relations are not just marking time; they are being continuously strengthened. The procedures on this document are moving to a close, making it possible to sign it in the foreseeable future.

Question (for both ministers): The anniversary meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council timed to the fifth anniversary of signing the Treaty on the EAEU will take place in Nur-Sultan the day after tomorrow. What do you think about the performance of this integration association? What has been done? What challenges are facing the union now?

Sergey Lavrov: The EAEU has obviously made it. Trade between the members is growing consistently. Trade between the Five and our foreign partners is also on the upsurge. I would say without exaggeration that there is a queue of those who want to sign agreements on liberalising trade with the EAEU. The first free-trade area agreement was signed with Vietnam and is already in effect. A temporary agreement was signed with Iran. Talks are underway with Singapore, Israel and many other states, including some outside Europe, for instance with Latin America where the EAEU has good contacts with MERCOSUR and a number of other sub-regional associations in Latin America and the Caribbean.   

To sum up, we have plans for developing the union. We have established common markets for goods, capital, services and a workforce. We are liberalizing trade, investment and other activities. We have a schedule for forming common markets, for instance a common market on energy sources, which is now being carried out and determines our work in all of these areas.

***

In conclusion I would like to say that our talks were attended by new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev who will leave for his new post on June 2. Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei and I wish him every success in his new office.




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