The West is seeking to punish Moscow for its independent foreign policy, and the United States and a number of European states have recently redoubled their efforts to contain Russia’s development.
This was stated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview with the Croatian newspaper Večernji list.
“Unfortunately, we have to admit that recently Washington and a number of EU capitals have been redoubling their efforts to restrain the development of Russia, trying to punish us for an independent foreign policy, for consistently upholding national interests <…> We have to conclude that we can count on mutually respectful consideration of emerging problems is not necessary, since the West has taken it as a rule to talk with Russia from the position of the presumption of its guilt in everything,” – the Russian Foreign Minister noted.
According to him, Western states, in order to justify their anti-Russian actions, including the introduction of new sanctions, “throw in various accusations and insinuations,” while not providing any evidence or facts. “Traditionally, everything remains at the level of innuendo in the highly likely format, claims are made on the basis of trumped-up charges and contrary to elementary logic,” – the minister explained. He added that Russia’s proposals to organize a professional dialogue on all issues that cause concern in the West remain without any reaction.
As an example, Lavrov mentioned “Berlin’s arrogant refusal to respond to numerous inquiries” by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office on the situation around Alexei Navalny, “in direct violation of Germany’s obligations under the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.” “Instead of respecting this international legal document, representatives of Germany and France initiated another batch of illegitimate EU sanctions against Russian citizens. All this deplorably and clearly illustrates the EU’s inability to adequately assess what is happening in the world, the desire to put itself outside the law,” he said.
At the same time, the head of the diplomatic service emphasized that Moscow does not intend to tolerate the rudeness of the West in its address and will not leave anti-Russian attacks unanswered. “We do not leave the anti-Russian attacks of our Western colleagues, who have thoroughly forgotten what diplomacy is and have sunk to the level of banal rudeness, without a proper reaction. Our retaliatory steps in the US and EU are well known,” Lavrov said.
Nevertheless, Russia, as the minister said, is trying to pursue a multi-vector foreign policy and “build up interaction with those who are open to honest joint work on the principles of equality, mutual respect and the search for a balance of interests.” “And such international partners are the overwhelming majority in Eurasia, and in Africa, and in Latin America. Among them are our friends and allies in the EAEU, CSTO, CIS, BRICS and SCO,” the Foreign Minister concluded.
Restoring honest dialogue with the EU
Moscow hopes that common sense regarding the Russian Federation will prevail in the European Union and the dialogue will be restored in full, Lavrov said.
The minister pointed out that “a serious obstacle to the further strengthening of Russian-Croatian ties remains the sanctions spiral, promoted by Brussels and a number of Russophobic countries within the EU – at the direct orders of Washington.” “And recently, such an anti-Russian line has become significantly more active. I would like to hope that our European colleagues will have enough wisdom, foresight, and just common sense, and as a result, our dialogue with the European Union and its member states will be fully restored on the principles of good neighborliness, honesty, predictability and openness, “Lavrov said.
However, he indicated that he would not characterize relations between Moscow and Zagreb as stagnant. “The Russian-Croatian political dialogue is regular and advanced. In 2017 and 2018, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic visited Russia at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin. These were very useful, productive meetings,” the head of the Russian diplomatic service said.
“Practical cooperation is progressing. Last year, a session of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation was held in Moscow. The next meeting was planned for this year in Croatia, but the pandemic forces us to make adjustments – the meeting will be organized as the epidemiological situation stabilizes,” he continued. Minister: – Of course, Croatian companies continue to work in Russia and Russian ones in Croatia. He also noted that at the end of 2019, trade between the two countries exceeded $ 1.5 billion.
Settlement in Ukraine
Russia sees no need for additional external initiatives to resolve the situation in Ukraine, including Croatia’s proposal for “peaceful reintegration,” Lavrov said.
According to him, the Minsk package of measures is an uncontested basis for a Ukrainian settlement. “Now it is simply necessary to implement in full what the parties agreed on more than five years ago in the course of many hours of diplomatic marathon,” Lavrov stressed. “We do not see the need for any additional external initiatives.”
In October 2016, a working group for cooperation with Ukraine was created in Zagreb, aimed at transferring to Kiev the Croatian experience of “peaceful reintegration of the occupied territories”, allegedly applicable to Donetsk and Luhansk.
Croatia bears its share of responsibility for the implementation of the Dayton Accords, Lavrov said.
“We are convinced that Dayton retains its relevance, its fundamental principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of BiH, equality of the three constituent peoples and two entities with broad constitutional powers allow us to maintain peace, stability and security, and ensure development. I think our approaches are consonant with The position of Croatia, which signed the peace agreement, bears its share of responsibility for its implementation and, probably, how few others are interested in ensuring that the fundamental tenets of Dayton are implemented, “the minister said.
Lavrov added that Russia, for its part, is ready to provide support in this matter. According to him, Russia and Croatia are united by their interest in strengthening international peace, security and stability, as well as ensuring sustainable development and political and diplomatic solutions to crises and conflicts. “The region of South-Eastern Europe remains a natural, historical environment for Russian-Croatian interaction, where joint efforts must support processes that imply a deepening of mutual understanding between regional participants, building a system of genuine national reconciliation based on common sense and existing international agreements,” the Foreign Minister said RF.
The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, better known as the Dayton Accords, signed on 14 December 1995, ended the conflict between the Muslim, Croatian and Serb communities. The state structure of BiH is one of the most complex in the world. Three main peoples are proportionally represented in the system of government: Boshniaks (Slavs who converted to Islam), Serbs (Orthodox) and Croats (Catholics).
About gas contracts in Russia
Gas contracts concluded between Russia and European countries are based solely on commercial interests and have no political motives, Lavrov said.
The Russian minister stressed that Russia for many decades has been and remains a reliable and honest partner in terms of energy supplies. “This is very well known in Zagreb,” the Russian Foreign Minister added. “As well as the fact that gas contracts with us have no political motives, we are talking about pure commerce. Talk about the notorious“ dependence ”of Croatia and other European states on Russian gas We, of course, have heard, but we do not find anything in them except the desire to sow unreasonable doubts. We do not impose anything on anyone, and we execute all concluded contracts with full responsibility. “
Lavrov pointed out that Russia at the same time respects the right of any country to independently determine its energy policy and choose the optimal sources of energy supplies. “We are not against competition at all,” he continued. “But healthy, fair competition based on market principles, not Cold War political slogans.”
As the Russian Foreign Minister noted, this also applies to plans to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the island of Krk in Croatia using EU funds and with the political support of the United States. “The project to build an LNG terminal on the island of Krk is a purely internal Croatian affair. If the Croatian colleagues believe that it is better for the country’s economy to buy liquefied gas rather than cheaper pipeline gas, please,” he said. “Everyone has the right to calculate their own benefits.”
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