25 May 2017
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

20.04.2017

Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, April 19, 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to participate in a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the SCO Member States

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Astana on April 20-21.

The discussion will focus on the current state of, and prospects for expanding, the SCO’s activities in light of the forthcoming SCO membership of India and Pakistan. In line with the work to ensure the substantive content of the SCO summit, which will be held in the capital of Kazakhstan on June 8-9, the ministers will focus on documents and decisions to be reviewed by the heads of the member states. Particular attention will be paid to coordinating issues related to deepening cooperation in the spheres of security and humanitarian ties.

The participants will exchange views on current issues of the global and regional agenda as well as on ways to build up practical interaction and coordination at multilateral platforms, primarily, within the UN.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the meeting.

Talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini will come to Russia on a working visit on April 24 at the invitation of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

During the talks, the participants will discuss the current state of affairs and prospects for Russia-EU relations, as well as key international issues, including the situations in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the situation around Iran’s nuclear programme, the Middle Eastern settlement, countering international terrorism and a number of other international topics.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to take part in the presentation of the Chuvash Republic

The Foreign Ministry is working to provide assistance to the Russian regions as they try to develop and strengthen their cooperation with foreign partners and the business community, which we regularly inform you about. Presentations of the economic and investment potential of the Russian regions are held at the House of Receptions at the Foreign Ministry Mansion as part of this work.

The presentation of the Chuvash Republic, with the participation of representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Moscow, federal and regional authorities, business circles and Russian and foreign media, will take place on April 24. The presentation is designed to familiarise the participants with international and foreign economic relations of the Chuvash Republic, and the plans of the region’s leadership to attract foreign investment and step up interaction with international partners. Long-term projects will be presented, which business circles or foreign stakeholders could take part in.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Head of the Chuvash Republic Mikhail Ignatiev will speak during the presentation.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with Secretary General of the OSCE Lamberto Zannier

On April 25, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with Secretary General of the OSCE Lamberto Zannier, who will be in Moscow to take part in the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security.

Mr Lavrov and Mr Zannier are expected to discuss a broad range of issues on the agenda of the OSCE, the world’s biggest regional organisation, with 57 member countries. Russia is an active participant in the organisation and wants it to play a more effective role in international affairs as an important instrument for building an indivisible security community.

Subjects of discussion include the OSCE’s tasks as a unifying platform for restoring trust in international relations, the organisation’s contribution to responding to transnational challenges such as terrorism, drug trafficking and cyber threats and prospects for harmonising the integration processes underway in the common European space. Other subjects of discussion include the OSCE’s work in the Balkans and the organisation’s role in facilitating the resolution of regional conflicts, including in eastern Ukraine.

Mr Lavrov and Mr Zannier will also examine in detail the activities of the OSCE’s field missions and specialised institutions, for example, the ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights), and the Representative on Freedom of the Media, including the need to correct imbalances in their work, as well as other structures and personnel issues related to planned changes in senior leadership.

We look forward to constructive and fruitful talks on all above themes.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 6th Moscow High-Level Conference on Security Issues

On April 25-27, the Defence Ministry plans to hold the 6th Moscow High-Level Conference on Security Issues, which is expected to be attended by over 700 representatives of state agencies, international and non-governmental organisations from 85 countries.

One of the key speakers, along with other representatives of Russian state agencies and bodies, will be Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will use his speech to address a wide range of current issues related to countering international terrorism, and global and regional security in the Middle East and North Africa, the European continent, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region.

We expect that the conference will once again confirm its high status as an international platform for exchanging views and experiences on countering new challenges and threats, which require a comprehensive integrated approach.

Russia’s participation in the international donor conference for Yemen

On April 25, Geneva will host a high-level donor conference to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, organised by the UN, Switzerland and Sweden. Russia will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.

According to UN estimates, the war in Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis of our time. It has been a terrible ordeal for the population. Based on the most conservative estimates, at least 7,500 people have been killed and over 40,000 people injured. About 19 million people, or 80 percent of the population, need humanitarian aid. Over 7 million people do not get enough food.

The conference aims to provide funding for the UN humanitarian response plan, to show solidarity with the Yemeni people suffering in the humanitarian disaster, and to send a clear message on behalf of the international community that the parties to the conflict must strictly adhere to international humanitarian law and ensure the population’s access to humanitarian aid.

A focus of Russia at the conference will be calling for an immediate end to the conflict, which, as we firmly believe, does not have a military solution. The parties should return at the negotiating table with the mediation of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. The normalisation of the humanitarian situation in the country is possible only through a long-term ceasefire and the beginning of a stable political settlement.

Resumption of the special session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

I would like to recall that the special session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) resumed its work today, April 19. It is dedicated to the situation in Syria in connection with the events in Khan Sheikhoun. The Russian delegation is led by Ambassador Alexander Shulgin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the OPCW. Director of the Department for Security Affairs and Disarmament Mikhail Ulyanov will take part in the discussions.

We will promptly publish the text of remarks at the session on the Foreign Ministry’s official website and will inform you about the session’s work.

The first summit of the Barents region’s indigenous groups

On April 28, Moscow will host the first summit of the Barents region’s indigenous groups. It will be convened within the framework of Russia’s chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in 2015–2017 to further dialogue and cooperation between the state authorities, businesses and indigenous peoples’ organisations in the region.

I would like to point out something that might cause misunderstanding: Please don’t be misled by the word “summit,” because heads of state will not be participating in the forum. It will be attended by representatives of the indigenous peoples and various branches of power, which I will talk about later.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov advanced this initiative during the 15th ministerial meeting of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in Oulu, Finland, on October 14, 2015.

Coinciding with the 12th Treasures of the North international exhibition/fair, the forum will be in the format of a plenary meeting and panel discussions involving representatives of the Barents region’s indigenous populations, the State Duma and the Federation Council of Russia’s Federal Assembly, relevant Russian ministries and agencies and the administrations of the Republic of Karelia, the Murmansk Region and the Nenets Autonomous Area. Representatives of the North European countries’ ethnic and regional executive bodies and legislatures will also take part.

The forum will discuss issues of socio-economic development and improving living standards essential for the Barents region’s indigenous peoples, with a focus on preserving their traditional livelihood, languages and cultures.

UNICEF March review on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has released its latest monthly review of the humanitarian situation in Ukraine (for March 2017).

Fund officers are working on both sides of the contact line and are stationed in Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Kramatorsk, Donetsk and Mariupol. UNICEF participates in implementing projects in education, water supply, sanitation, healthcare, including the fight against HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and child protection. Only one-third of the UN humanitarian appeal for UNICEF has been funded ($9 million out of the necessary $32 million).

Citing the OSCE, the review notes that hostilities are subsiding though public facilities are still occasionally shelled, which disrupts water supply. In terms of civilian causalities, it is reported that five adults and a child have been killed and 36 wounded.

The chronology of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics trade blockade, as portrayed in the review, is indicative: it creates the impression that the blockade was imposed as the Kiev authorities’ response to so-called external management of all Ukrainian businesses except Waters of Donbass and MTS. The review does not say a word about provocative actions by the notorious anti-terrorist operation veterans, who closed transport links with Donbass early this year – as if these actions never happened and no one knows about them.

Among events with an impact on the general situation, the review mentions the murder of a “former Russian legislator”, the temporary closure of the Russian-Ukrainian border on its Chernigov stretch, and the attack at the Polish consulate general in Lutsk.

Note that the plight of children in Donbass (UNICEF estimates the number of children in need of help at a million) is made worse by the Ukrainian government blocking food and medicine supplies to the country’s southeast.

We, for our part, are doing everything we can to aid the population in need. By March 23, 2017, Russia had sent to the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics 62 humanitarian convoys carrying over 66,700 tonnes of supplies – mainly food, medicine, fuel, construction materials, electrical equipment and generators, farming equipment, and school books.

According to Russia’s Federal Migration Service, the number of Ukrainians currently in Russia was 2,300,320 as of March 16, including 1,015,214 from south-eastern Ukraine. There are 31 temporary settlements in 14 constituent entities, and Ukrainian refugees receive regular food and other aid and medical care.

I would like to touch on fake news and hoaxes – in fact, blatant misinformation – in this context. I announced a figure today that shows that Russia has sent over 60 humanitarian convoys to the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. Just remember what it all began with: tweets and Western press reports about Russia launching an armed invasion of Ukraine. Convoys in duly marked white lorries were made out to be carrying armoured vehicles and not humanitarian aid.

Who is circulating fake news? I don’t think the culprits are hard to find. Everyone is keeping silent for some reason now. No one spots a single humanitarian convoy in Donbass, no one is tweeting anything of the sort, and we don’t see any relevant contributions in the Western press. I don’t think we will see any, for that matter.




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Question: The meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson only lasted forty minutes, compared to the Moscow meeting which was took one hour longer. Nevertheless, it seems that you had enough time to achieve the needed results. Specifically, you said that you talked about Syria at length, and the Americans were people of action. Could you be more specific about the action you were referring to here? Could you share some details about this meeting? Sergey Lavrov: Firstly, Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow was important because of the mere fact that it provided an opportunity for the first face-to-face meeting at foreign minister level and a meeting took place with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Since this was the first contact of this kind, we spent quite a lot of time going through all the subjects on the agenda related to bilateral ties and international and regional issues. The visit to Washington was a follow-up to the conversation already started in Moscow. Rex Tillerson and I had a meeting that lasted about two hours, and a little less than an hour in the White House, where we talked at length with US President Donald Trump about Syria (as I have already said at the press conference in Washington), primarily focusing on the groundwork that was laid last year, and further efforts along these lines by the new administration.



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