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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.


16.01.2020 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at a plenary session of the Raisina Dialogue international conference, New Delhi, January 15, 2020

Good morning and bon appetit to those who have some food on their tables. I would like first of all to thank the organisers of this conference for the invitation. I understand this is a young forum, but it managed already in a few years to acquire importance, popularity and reputation. It is indeed very appropriate that we get together more often than in the past to discuss where we are in international relations and which way we are heading.

15.01.2020 - Interview of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with the Times of India newspaper, published on January 15, 2020

Question: What areas of cooperation will be in the focus of your visit to India and will determine the strategic partnership between the two states in 2020? What do you think about the Indian-Russian cooperation in general? Sergey Lavrov: This is a special year for our countries. Twenty years ago, India and Russia signed the Declaration on Strategic Partnership.

14.01.2020 - Ambassador Andrei Kelin's letter to the Times in response to the Polish Ambassador Arkady Rzegocki on World War II

Sir, Polish Ambassador Rzegocki, in his letter published on 9 January, proposes to “question the USSR’s status as liberator”, claiming that Molotov-Ribbentrop pact “sparked the war and a double totalitarian invasion of Poland”. Let me suggest to my Polish colleague to look deeper into the history of that time.

14.01.2020 - Interview of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with the Daily News Sri Lankan newspaper, published on January 13, 2020

Question: Since the end of the Cold War and the inception of the multipolar world order, you have spent many years engaged in international affairs and geopolitics. Are there any peculiarities in the relations between Sri Lanka and Russia originating in that period? Sergey Lavrov: The relations between our states have always been intrinsically valuable and independent from international developments. They have always been and continue to be based on the principles of equality, trust, mutual respect and consideration of one another's interests. The peculiarities specific to certain periods of history are of marginal significance, since they do not affect the inviolability of the bonds of friendship uniting our peoples.

19.12.2019 - President Vladimir Putin replies to a BBC question during his annual press conference Moscow, 19 December 2019

I know what the interests of my country are. And whatever somebody might say about me, this has no importance whatsoever when compared to the fundamental tasks that Russia is interested in solving. But of course, we see, we hear, we understand and we take those views into consideration in our work.

18.12.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s article Neighbours in Europe. Russia-EU: Thirty Years of Relations for Rossiyskaya Gazeta, December 18, 2019

Thirty years ago, on December 18, 1989, Brussels hosted the signing of the Agreement on Trade and Commercial and Economic Cooperation between the USSR and the European communities. This date became the point of departure for official relations between Russia as the successor state of the USSR and the European Union. Symbolically, the Agreement was signed slightly over a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event that came down in history as a landmark signifying the end of the Cold War, a period, when the continent was divided into two opposing ideological blocs. The founders of the Russia-EU partnership knew that it would be impossible to erase the centuries-old divides on the continent unless a broad framework for cooperation was created in Europe. Both sides intended to make it mutually beneficial, long-term, and resistant to economic and political fluctuations.

06.12.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 26th OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, Bratislava, December 5, 2019

Mr Chairperson-in-Office, Mr Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen, First of all, allow me to thank Slovakia’s Chairmanship for its hospitality. Here in Bratislava, where Western and Eastern Europe meet, we are reminded that the purpose of our organisation is to facilitate the emergence of shared security through cooperation, as well as the removal of dividing lines and the growth of mutual trust. The goal adopted at the 2010 Astana summit of building a community of equal, comprehensive and indivisible security should remain our utmost priority. Today, CSTO foreign ministers adopted a statement to this effect, reaffirming their commitment to this objective.

29.11.2019 - Ambassador Andrei Kelin’s speech at the opening of the V Russian-British Business Forum in London, 27 November 2019

Ladies and gentlemen! I am pleased with the opportunity to deliver my first speech as Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom at the Russian-British Business Forum. Over the five years, the Forum has become a solid platform for open and direct dialogue and exchange of views, involving both business community and officials. The number of participants has been growing annually. Together, we have managed to create a constructive atmosphere of partnership.

28.11.2019 - Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov’s reply to a media question concerning the recent statement of the UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff

Q: How would you comment on the statement made by the UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Nicholas Carter that the UK is in a state of cyber war with Russia? Has London raised this matter with Moscow? Has the British side provided any evidence? A.: This is not the first statement of this sort made by the UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff, General Carter, and it certainly needs to be considered in the context of the large-scale anti-Russian propaganda campaign launched by the British government.

21.11.2019 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Moscow, November 20, 2019

We have had very good talks with my Bahraini colleague and friend, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, and we have reached agreements on all the issues we discussed.

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