29 Dec 2014

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: we are not interested in alienation or confrontation between Russia, West

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has given an interview with Interfax, in which he summed up the results of this foreign policy year and spoke about the priorities of Russian diplomacy in 2015

Question: Year 2014 was marked by a difficult conflict between Russia and the West over the crisis in Ukraine, and many people even started talking about a return to the times of the "Cold War." Can you say that year 2014 was the most difficult year in your diplomatic career? Were efforts to maintain Russia‘s position as a leading player on the international scene successful?

Minister: Year 2014 was indeed very difficult for Russian diplomacy. The state coup and armed seizure of power in Ukraine supported by the United States and a number of EU countries and the illegal sanctions unilaterally imposed on Russia have seriously complicated relations between Moscow and Western states

These developments are a logical consequence of major systemic problems which have accumulated since the end of the Cold War, such as the stubborn wish of "the historic West" to retain its dominance in global affairs at any cost and to reverse the objective process of the formation of a new polycentric world order.

The refusal of Western nations to begin the formation of an equal and indivisible security system in the Euro-Atlantic [region], their course towards a creeping grab of geopolitical space in the east and the division of states into "friends" and "foes" seriously destabilizes the situation on the international scene.

At the same time, despite all problems, as President Putin said in his address to the Federal Assembly, this year we have been able to go through all tests, showing that we are a mature, solid nation, we really proved that we are capable of defending our compatriots and defending the truth and justice with honor. I believe that is the main result of the year. Besides, rating periods of time by how difficult they are is probably a job for historians.

The independent multi-vector foreign policy approved by the president has proven to be effective. Despite unprecedented effort, Washington has failed to create a large-scale anti-Russian coalition. Russia had equal, mutually respectful dialogue with most countries in 2014. Close or similar views on key international issues, adherence to the principles of multi-polarity with a focus on international law and the central coordinating role of the UN makes us natural partners, enabling us to increase fruitful cooperation in a broad range of areas.

A definite success of Russian diplomacy and a big contribution to the strengthening of regional and international stability was the signing of the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty, which will come into force on January 1, 2015. Armenia will become a full-fledged member literally in a few days. A treaty on Kyrgyzstan‘s accession to the Union was signed on December 23. The desire of different countries to join the EEU or sign a free trade agreement with it indicates the success of the project and confirms that there is demand for it.
As chairman of the CSTO, Russia worked on increasing the role and potential of the Organization, strengthening its alliance with its partners to support stability and security in its area of responsibility and combat various threats, including those coming from Afghanistan.

Russia actively promoted the resolution of the crisis in Ukraine and consistently spoke in favour of a ceasefire and a long-term truce. These efforts resulted in the achievement of the Minsk agreements, which determined the framework for de-escalating the conflict.

Our consistent policies played a large role in the successful completion of the chemical demilitarization of Syria. The necessary steps were taken to help the people of Syria achieve national peace and accord. For this purpose, intensive work continued with Syrian government officials and various opposition groups, including on issues relating to the organization of direct contacts between them. We also interacted with the "external players," international and regional partners.

The principles of gradualness and mutuality set forth by Russia, some of our ideas and proposals caused headway in the negotiations between the Sextet and Tehran on the situation with the Iranian nuclear program. Special attention was given to Russia‘s integration in Asia and the Pacific, including in the context of the development of the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia. We continued to increase comprehensive cooperation and strategic partnership with China. Essentially, we are talking about the formation of a Russian-Chinese energy and technological alliance and close coordination on the international scene. Our relations with India, Vietnam and other countries of Asia and the Pacific developed progressively. Our relations with the countries of Latin America and Africa developed successfully. The unilateral restrictions imposed on Russia helped expand the prospects of fruitful cooperation, including in the sphere of trade and investment, with countries that are not involved in the sanctions pressure.

Question: What do you expect from 2015? Can the crisis in eastern Ukraine be resolved or should an increase in alienation and confrontation between Russia and the West be expected? What other foreign policy challenges will Russian diplomacy face in 2015?

Minister: We expect the principles of constructive, equal and mutually respectful dialogue on all issues relating to global policy, economics, humanitarian issues, and giving a serious impetus to the process of development of a new polycentric world system to be established in international relations in 2015. I am positive that we are able to overcome the latest negative trend and to break free from the spiral of confrontation thrust [on us] by certain Western partners.

To make that happen, it is necessary to stop using the bad logic of unilateral actions and interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign countries in violation of the UN Charter and the principles of the OSCE, attempts to organize ‘color revolutions" and "zero sum" geopolitical games with a attempts to change the situation in different regions to achieve one‘s narrow goals, including using military methods. Such actions only increase chaos and instability in international relations.

Russia will continue to defend a positive integrated agenda in global affairs and developing mutually profitable and equal dialogue with everyone who is ready for it. We will also continue promoting such approaches in the UN and other multilateral formats, including the G20, and also BRICS and SCO, which Russia will chair next year, and Russia will also host the summits of these organizations in Ufa in the summer.

"As to the crisis in Ukraine, its resolution is not only possible, but quite realistic. The current tragic stage in the history of Ukraine should be overcome by restoring national accord, achieving a compromise, a balance of interests and building truly equal relations between all regions of this country. However, we should understand that the crisis will last until the people of Ukraine reach agreements among themselves, without prompters from Brussels and Washington. Including on what the Ukrainian state will be like, how the rights of citizens and ethnic minorities will be defended there, what the guaranteed status of the Russian language and other languages will be, and how the life of every region will be organized in general.

The need for such comprehensive national dialogue with all regions and political forces of Ukraine resulting in the launch of a constitutional reform was outlined in the agreement of February 21, the Geneva statement on April 17, and the Minsk protocol of September 5, 2014. We will continue doing everything to promote its launch and calling for stable direct contacts between Kyiv and Donetsk and Luhansk in the context of the elections there, as well as further work in the Contact Group involving representatives of the DPR and the LPR.

We are not interested in alienation or confrontation between Russia and the West. Despite unfriendly steps by our Western partners, we are still opposed to sliding into primitive confrontational schemes. We stand for the beginning of a substantive dialogue between the EEU and the EU for the sake of the "integration of integrations" project and the eventual formation of a single economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean based on equal and undivided security. Moscow is ready for interaction in any format and is ready to continue making its contribution to the joint solution of real rather than imaginary problems on the basis of equality and mutual account of interests. We invariably proceed from the premise that despite any disagreements, the global agenda of cooperation in the deterrence of such contemporary challenges as international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, drug trafficking and natural and man-made disasters remains in effect. It is possible to find answers to these challenges only together, consistent with international laws and the central and coordinating role of the UN. Domestic diplomats will continue the promotion of such collective efforts in the upcoming year.

We will continue focusing on the resolution of crises that have a serious impact on global stability, especially in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Afghanistan. The increase of extremism in the Middle East, which threats the wellbeing of the countries located there and the international situation in general, is especially dangerous. We are alarmed about the increasing extremist activities in some other countries, including in Pakistan.

We will continue looking for solutions to the Iranian nuclear issue and will continue promoting the resumption of negotiations on the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula.
Next year, we will mark the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic war. We intend to give this anniversary a global dimension, which meets its eternal significance, and conduct celebrations involving a broad range of our allies and friends, including in the framework of international organizations.

Our priorities will include the protection of the rights and lawful interests of Russian citizens and our compatriots who live abroad and promote the interests of Russian businesses. We plan to continue improving Russian foreign policy instruments, including economic diplomacy, the use of "soft force," and information support of international activities.

We will generally pursue an independent foreign policy, reliably defending our national interests in the framework of international law.

We are open to cooperation with everyone on the basis of equality, mutual respect and balance of interests No one in history has ever succeeded in bending Russia to an external influence and solving their problems at our expense and no one will ever will.