Brussels, July 11, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
To begin with I would like to thank High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini for the opportunity to hold today’s meeting. As soon as Ms Mogherini learned that I was invited to visit Belgium, she immediately asked me about this meeting. I agreed with pleasure.
I wholly share what has just been said about the need for regular contacts, especially now that our colleagues from the European Union have frozen – for obvious though absolutely short-sighted reasons in my view – the majority of dialogue mechanisms that existed between Moscow and Brussels. Nonetheless, ties are being maintained. There is a mutual understanding that in any event we are neighbours and we must resolve issues that emerge between us on the basis of mutual consent. I believe the situation will gradually come back to normal. This meets the fundamental interests of Russia and the EU countries, interests that are free from any superficial factors.
Today we also talked about our cooperation in the international arena. We understand the EU’s desire to play its own role in approaching different crises. We welcome this desire and attitude of our EU colleagues. For the majority of international issues that have just been mentioned by High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, we are both interested in exchanging views, conducting dialogue and trying to find a practical way to settle this or that crisis.
I am content with today’s conversation and would like to thank Ms Mogherini and her colleagues for brilliant consultations.
Question (addressed to Federica Mogherini): Russia and the United States signed a ceasefire agreement in Syria. Along with the talks in Astana attended by Russia, Turkey and Iran, this is a direct step towards the promotion of the peace process. In April the EU said again that Bashar al-Assad does not have a future in Syria. Is this the EU’s only contribution to the peace process? Are there any other initiatives you can suggest?
Sergey Lavrov (answering after Ms Mogherini): We know what a great contribution the EU is making to alleviate the sufferings of the Syrian people. I think it’s high time to look at the humanitarian consequences of the sanctions imposed by the EU and the United States against Syria. We have already discussed this abnormal situation with our colleagues. These sanctions are doing much to impede the development of the production of basic necessities in Syria, including medicines. Syria used to have a highly developed pharmaceutical industry but now it has been damaged by the sanctions and bans imposed on it by our Western colleagues.
Question: Could you please comment on the situation with Russian diplomatic property in the United States? What reciprocal measures can be taken if this property remains blocked?
Sergey Lavrov: We still hope that a country that has always advocated the supremacy of law will respect its international commitments. If this does not happen and we see that Washington does not deem it necessary to take such a step, we will certainly take reciprocal measures. This is the law of diplomacy and international life. Reciprocity is the foundation of all relations.
Question: Could you please explain whether Russia will expel 30 US diplomats and seize US property? If so, when will this happen?
Sergey Lavrov: My answer is very simple. You should have written down my answer to the previous question. I suggest you listen to it once again.
Question: I listened to it, Mr Minister. Could you tell me exactly whether diplomats will be expelled?
Sergey Lavrov: I have answered this question.