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PRESS RELEASES

20.04.2015

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Zambia Harry Kalaba, April 17, 2015

Ladies and gentlemen,

My Zambian colleague Harry Kalaba and I have held constructive talks.

Zambia is a time-tested partner of Russia on the African continent. We have discussed bilateral relations and their prospects in detail, establishing mutual readiness to deepen trade and economic ties, as Russian companies are becoming increasingly interested in the Zambian market and Africa in general.

Humanitarian and cultural cooperation is another area of priority for us. Zambia is a leader among Sub-Saharan countries in terms of the number of Russian Government scholarships obtained by its citizens to study in Russian universities. This academic year, the number of government-sponsored scholarships will be increased, and we will continue this trend moving forward.

Another positive development is having educational institutions of the Russian Ministry of the Interior provide training to Zambian law enforcement officers.

We have confirmed our mutual commitment to further improving a contractual and legal framework, including efforts to reach agreements on a number of intergovernmental and interagency documents, including in the area of combatting drug trafficking.

We have exchanged opinions on the topical international and regional issues. Our approaches to most of them either converge or are quite similar. Russia and Zambia advocate strict observance of international law, respect for the identity of all peoples, and their right to self-determination and choosing their development path. We have praised the cooperation between our delegations in the UN and other multilateral formats.

Let’s now turn to African issues. We call for the Africans play a dominant role in settling regional conflicts and crises with the support of the international community and coordination by the United Nations. We welcome Lusaka’s proactive involvement in regional structures such as the African Union, the South African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. We praise Zambia’s mediation and peacekeeping initiatives aimed at defusing crises and promoting peace and stability in the region. We have agreed to continue political consultations on all of these matters.

We are, of course, concerned about the developments in a number of other regions, including the Middle East, about the growing terrorist threat, which we discussed today. We advocate consolidated efforts against terrorism that should be free of any double standards.

All in all, our talks confirmed that relations between the Russian Federation and Zambia have good prospects, and we are ready to take practical steps to put their rich potential to good use.

Question (addressed to Harry Kalaba): On April 23, Moscow will host the second ministerial anti-drug conference, which Zambia is supposed to attend. Representatives of the Federal Service for Drug Control (FSDC) and the Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) plan to sign a memorandum of mutual understanding on the sidelines of the event. What do you think about the level of the drug threat in Africa?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Mr Kalaba): Let me add that we also attach much importance to the development of cooperation with Zambia, including in combatting drug trafficking. Apart from the agreement between the FSDC and their Zambian partners, today we’ve offered to our Zambian friends to use the opportunities available through the FSDC for training foreign drug police officers. Now Zambian specialists study and upgrade their skills at higher educational institutions of the Ministry of the Interior. They can do this in the FSDC as well. We hope they will use it.

Question: Does Russia have any new information about the OSCE plan on troop withdrawal in Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: Strictly speaking, this is not an OSCE plan. It was adopted by the Contact Group at the meeting in Minsk on February 19 and was supported by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine. As you will recall, this document provided for the withdrawal of specific categories of heavy weapons with a caliber of over 100 mm to distances agreed upon for each category. The OSCE Mission was called upon to control the process of heavy weapons withdrawal and storage in allocated places.

On April 14 the Contact Group held a video conference attended by representatives of the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission on the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Regrettably, OSCE experts stated that both sides violated the ceasefire agreements, and the withdrawal and storage of heavy weapons. However, they emphasised that the progress was obvious. Now the main task is to prevent new clashes and shelling because tensions are running high, especially in the Donetsk Airport area and the village of Shirokino.

Speaking about weapons withdrawal, I’d like to point out that another foreign ministers meeting in the Normandy format took place last Monday, April 13. One of its main proposals was to offer that the sides withdraw heavy weapons, including those with a caliber of less than 100 mm. This proposal was supported by Lugansk and Donetsk. It was reviewed at the April 14 video conference I’ve mentioned. Regrettably, the Ukrainian side again set preliminary conditions, including the demand of “complete silence,” which is hardly realistic. When we accepted the said recommendation in Berlin with the participation of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin, it seemed to us that it was the withdrawal of additional smaller caliber weapons that would really reduce the risk of new incidents. So we’ll demand that our Ukrainian colleagues comply with what we agree on.

Unfortunately, this is not the first metamorphosis of the Ukrainian position. Let me recall that immediately after the February 12 summit in Minsk, after lengthy and exhausting talks and the adoption of documents, Kiev started making statements that ran directly counter to what we agreed on. Then Kiev even adopted legislative acts, in particular, on the preparations for elections, which turned everything upside down and, in effect, implied renunciation by Kiev of its commitment to deal with Donetsk and Lugansk representatives on election issues, a special status that should be sealed in the Constitution, and much more.

I hope that our Western partners understand who is impeding the implementation of the agreements, and that Paris and Berlin will exercise their responsibility for the decisions made and will work for their implementation.




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