Question: Will you comment, please, on the outcome of discussions on Russia-EU relations at the Informal Meeting of EU Foreign Ministers held in Germany on August 27-28?
Maria Zakharova: Despite the declared EU foreign policy chiefs’ intention to reflect more deeply on the EU’s relations with Russia at their informal meeting, it appears that the ministers did not hold a substantive discussion on this issue. It is notable that the participants have not made any meaningful comments regarding this, either.
In other words, Brussels has yet again missed an opportunity to make Russian-EU relations more healthy and constructive. It is obvious that the atmosphere of these relations in the foreseeable future will continue to be based on the five principles, which have been formulated as the lowest common denominator of the EU countries’ diverging positions and which many EU members regard as obsolete.
As before, it is for the EU to choose a policy towards a dialogue with Russia. And like before, we are ready to talk with the EU on issues of mutual interest, but only on an equal, mutually beneficial and non-discriminatory basis.
The EU foreign ministers also discussed the current developments in Belarus. Regrettably, the EU has again attempted to influence the situation in that fraternal country. Instead of showing restraint and tact, which are crucial for creating conditions for an inclusive national dialogue, they once again opted for illegal unilateral sanctions. More calls have been made to increase financial support for opposition organisations in Belarus, including those which are already receiving support from neighbouring European countries. This is a violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states set out in the Helsinki Final Act. We hope that the EU will adjust its foreign policy narrative to this and the other fundamental principles of common European security.