15 July 2020
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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions during a joint news conference following talks with Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, Moscow, October 21, 2019

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have held detailed talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Ekaterina Zaharieva. It is symbolic that this is our Bulgarian colleague’s first visit to Russia and that it has taken place this year, which marks the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries.

We welcomed the increasingly active political dialogue. A series of important meetings was held this year, including those at the top level. I am talking about Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s official visit to Bulgaria; the participation of the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum and his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin; and Speaker of the Bulgarian National Assembly Tsveta Karayancheva’s visit to Russia. In addition, Dmitry Medvedev and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov met on the sidelines of the First Caspian Economic Forum in Turkmenistan in August 2019.

The joint efforts to promote political dialogue have brought results, which is proved by the improvement of our trade and economic relations. We commended the results of the meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation that took place in Varna this September. We also agreed to assist in the implementation of the decisions that were made during the meeting in a variety of spheres, from trade and transport to education and sports.

Our energy cooperation is improving and bringing results. Our Bulgarian colleagues informed us that the construction of the infrastructure for gas deliveries via the second line of the TurkStream pipeline has begun. As Ms Zaharieva said, the launch ceremony took place today with the participation of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Anatoly Makarov. Our partners emphasised that the works will be concluded by 2020, as scheduled. At the same time, the Bulgarian Cabinet of Ministers is taking concrete steps to resume the construction of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant. The Bulgarian authorities are currently selecting the project’s strategic investor. Russia’s Rosatom State Corporation, which is the manufacturer of nuclear reactors and the owner of technology, will take an active part in this process.

We expressed satisfaction with Russian-Bulgarian cultural and humanitarian cooperation. We also thanked the Bulgarian Government for its efforts to create conditions for the study of Russian, which has been the second most popular foreign language in Bulgaria over the past 10 years. It is gratifying that Bulgarian young people demonstrate a significant amount of interest in studying at Russian universities. This academic year, 230 Bulgarian students have been enrolled at Russian universities and their tuition fees will be paid from the federal budget. At the same time, several hundred Russian citizens are studying in Bulgaria.

We have agreed to encourage tourism. Last year, over half a million Russians visited Bulgaria. We would like to see this figure increase. We would be glad also if more Bulgarian citizens visited Russia.

We have agreed to intensify our efforts to improve the contractual legal framework of our relations. The documents to which we attach priority importance include an intergovernmental agreement on licence relations and an intergovernmental programme of cooperation in culture, education and science, as well as an intergovernmental agreement on military graves.

I have delivered the documents on the state registration of the right of permanent (perpetual) use of the Bulgarian Embassy site in Russia to my Bulgarian colleague. We hope that our partners will reciprocate in the settlement of problems with Russian state properties in Bulgaria.

We exchanged views on current international topics in a constructive and trust-based manner. We focused on the Balkans, where the situation is, regrettably, far from simple. Russia is against viewing this region as a scene of geopolitical confrontation. We are interested in stabilisation and sustainable development there. In particular, we firmly proceed from the premise that a settlement in Kosovo must be based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and that the situation in Bosnia must develop in keeping with the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement.

We discussed our cooperation within the framework of the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), where Bulgaria presided in the first half of 2019. We also talked about the current and future relations between Russia and the EU, including in the context of the recent reshuffle in the European Commission.

We exchanged views on the developments in Ukraine after the presidential election. We reaffirmed our commitment to the Minsk Package of Measures for a settlement in eastern Ukraine.

Madam Minister kindly invited me to come to Bulgaria on a reciprocal visit. I accept this invitation with pleasure and gratitude. 

Question (for both ministers, retranslated from Bulgarian): Have you discussed energy issues? Are you going to develop joint projects in this area? Have you reached specific agreements?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Ms Zaharieva): We think we have very good prospects for developing trade and economic ties. As was already mentioned today, in September Varna hosted a regular meeting of the Russian-Bulgarian Intergovernmental Commission on Economic,  Scientific  and Technical Cooperation that mapped out further steps to promote economic cooperation that are bound to increase trade.

Speaking about specific projects, Ms Zaharieva mentioned that the modernisation of two energy units at the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant has been completed quite recently. Their service life was extended, and they are functioning effectively. Rosatom is ready to take part in the bidding for a contractor to resume the construction of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant. We hope our corporation has good chances to win it, considering that it produces reactors and owns the technology. As Minister Zaharieva said, today’s event – the launching of the construction of Balkan Stream – is a big step towards expanding the second leg of TurkStream to European consumers. It will obviously enhance Europe’s energy security.

Today, we also spoke about transport projects: resumption of ferry service and projects that are under review in the multilateral format by the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (OBSEC). There are promising agreements to promote the format of a single customs window which will simplify trade procedures and the decision made last May to form a common marine agenda. The sides are also discussing the formation of a leading group to promote a very promising project that will not only facilitate the sustainable socioeconomic development of the Black Sea area but also create better conditions for ensuring political stability in the region. We appreciate Bulgaria’s active role in this project and will support it.

Question: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed the details of the meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi. Turkey wants to discuss the situation in the districts of Manbij and Ayn al-Arab after the Syrian Army established control over them. Erdogan’s advisor believes that if the Syrian Army defends the Kurds, it will be an open declaration of war on Turkey. Do you think it is necessary to start implementing the Adana agreement and revise its details to address the concerns of both sides?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not comment on what an advisor or some other official said. We have a position that we are openly promoting and consider optimal in the current situation. According to it, the goal is to make all Kurdish structures legal in the Syrian Arab Republic and conform with the Syrian Constitution so that there are no illegal armed units in Syria and there is no threat from its territory to the security of the Republic of Turkey or any other states. To reach this goal, and we believe this is the only correct way of resolving the current situation, it is necessary to maintain a dialogue between the Kurds and Damascus. We are going to encourage this dialogue in every possible way. Both sides are interested in Russia’s help with it.

Of course, it is necessary to maintain dialogue between Turkey and Syria, in which we are also willing to facilitate and encourage direct contacts. Obviously, dialogue between Ankara and Damascus should rely on the 1998 Adana agreement. This is the existing international legal foundation that was recently confirmed by both sides, including in the context of the latest developments. If during their contacts the sides decide it is necessary and mutually acceptable to clarify or change this agreement, that will be up to them. We will of course accept and support their decision.

Question: Last week it was reported that Russia plans to hold a Syrian-Turkish meeting in Sochi. Will it really be held and at what level?

Sergey Lavrov: A representative of the Presidential Executive Office has already commented on this issue. We do not plan to have such contacts.

Question (retranslated from Bulgarian): As we understood, you accepted the invitation of Foreign Minister Zaharieva to visit Bulgaria. When is President of Russia Vladimir Putin expected to come to Sofia?

Sergey Lavrov: As you understand, I receive an invitation from the Minister and respond to it. Top-level contacts are the domain of the relevant agencies – presidential executive offices. President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov are in regular contact. I am sure when there is a real opportunity for this, they will take advantage of it.


14.07.2020 - Foreign Ministry statement on the fifth anniversary of concluding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Five years ago, on July 14, 2015, the foreign ministers of Great Britain, Germany, Iran, China, Russia, France and the United States, with the participation of the EU, concluded settlement agreements for the Iranian nuclear programme that were unique in their scope and reach. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action driven by the common political will of the countries participating in its development and reinforced by UNSC Resolution 2231 was a major achievement of multilateral diplomacy. It showed the benefits and effectiveness of the decisions made during the talks that prevailed over approaches based on threats, pressure and brute force.

09.07.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a news conference following political consultations between the foreign ministers of Russia and three African Union countries (South Africa, Egypt and the Congo) via videoconference, Moscow, July 8, 2020

Colleagues, Today, we held the first political consultation meeting at the foreign minister level between Russia and three members of the African Union. This mechanism was established after the first Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi last October. These countries are the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are the former, current and next presidents of the African Union.

24.06.2020 - President Vladimir Putin's speech at the military parade marking 75th anniversary of Great Victory, 24 June 2020

People of Russia, Our dear veterans, Foreign guests, Soldiers and sailors, sergeants, warrant officers and ensigns, Officers, generals and admirals, I wish you all the best on the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. A victory that determined the future of the planet for decades to come and went down in history as the grandest in its scale, significance and moral value. This year, the traditional Victory Day celebrations are being held in Russia on June 24. Exactly 75 years ago, the legendary victors paraded right here, along the Kremlin wall, to commemorate the end of the Great Patriotic War. That parade went down in history as a triumph of unprecedented scale, the triumph of good over evil, of peace over war, and life over death.

19.06.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions during a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei, Minsk, June 19, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to our Belarusian friends for the warm welcome accorded to our delegation.

18.06.2020 - Article by President of Russia Vladimir Putin '75th Anniversary of the Great Victory: Shared Responsibility to History and our Future'

75 years have passed since the end of the Great Patriotic War. Several generations have grown up over the years. The political map of the planet has changed. The Soviet Union that claimed an epic, crushing victory over Nazism and saved the entire world is gone. Besides, the events of that war have long become a distant memory, even for its participants. So why does Russia celebrate the 9th of May as the biggest holiday? Why does life almost come to a halt on June 22? And why does one feel a lump rise in their throat? They usually say that the war has left a deep imprint on every family's history. Behind these words, there are fates of millions of people, their sufferings and the pain of loss. Behind these words, there is also the pride, the truth and the memory.

18.06.2020 - Article co-authored by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Serbian Kurir on June 18, 2020

Public discussions about possible outcomes of the Kosovo knot have become noticeably livelier recently. The United States and the EU are striving to make themselves an indispensable part of the settlement and are competing for the leading role in this process. In addition, as it happened before, they often disregard the opinions of other stakeholders, which fact calls into question the very possibility of finding a fair solution. Looking back into the recent past and analysing the regrettable consequences of external interference in the region’s affairs is something that must be done if we want to avoid making more mistakes. We also believe it is important to provide a general assessment of the current state of affairs and to outline our fundamental approaches to the Kosovo settlement.

17.06.2020 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on US Officials’ Statements on Russia's manipulation of the International Criminal Court

Last week, Washington announced more unilateral sanctions. Unfortunately, this has already become common practice for the United States. These sanctions are directed at an unusual target - not one of the many countries that are out of US favour, but the International Criminal Court and its staff. This event was the subject of a joint briefing by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defence, the Attorney General and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

02.06.2020 - Appeal by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to the parliaments of foreign States and the peoples of the world with regard to the 75th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazism

Appeal by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to the parliaments of foreign States and the peoples of the world with regard to the 75th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazism

28.05.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s article about the world amid the coronavirus pandemic for Chinese newspaper Global Times, Moscow, May 28, 2020

The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus changed life on the planet virtually overnight. It also became a crush test for international relations, both at the level of individual countries and multilateral associations. The obvious consequences include an economic recession, a crisis of global governance and the growth of protectionist and isolationist sentiments. The pandemic has seriously limited humanitarian, cultural and tourist exchanges, as well as people to people contacts. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

27.05.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the joint news conference with CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas following the CSTO Foreign Ministers Council videoconference, Moscow, May 26, 2020

We have held a CSTO Foreign Ministers Council meeting via videoconference. Russia is chairing the CSTO this year. Considering the difficult situation caused by the coronavirus infection, we approached the preparations and holding of this meeting with certain precautions.

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