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Lavrov confident that Russia-West relations will return to previous level

August 15, 2016, 10:03 UTC+3

The Russian foreign minister points to Western double standards in evaluating the humanitarian situation in Syria and Yemen

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov


YEKATERINBURG, August 15. /TASS/. Russia has no intention of going into isolation, relations with the West will return to their previous level sooner or later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday addressing students of the Urals Federal University.

"Our dialogue with (German Foreign Minister) Frank-Walter (Steinmeier) has never been interrupted," he said. "I really appreciate the opportunity to communicate with my German counterpart candidly, frankly, without smoothing things over."

"We do not make a tragedy out of this (the situation in the Russian-German relations - TASS)," Lavrov went on to say. "We have said on numerous occasions that taking offence, going into isolation is no choice of ours."

"I am confident that our ties will return to a sustainable path sooner or later, the more so because their further degradation meets neither our countries’ nor Europe’s interests," he added.

Lavrov noted that "there is a growing awareness in Europe that there is no alternative to normalizing relations and relaunching cooperation mechanisms, adding that freezing cooperation between Russia and the EU, including in the energy sector, "was, of course, a mistake.".

West blames Russia for failure in Ukraine

According to Lavrov, the West decided to lay the blame for the failure of its policy in Ukraine on Russia.

"Our proposals to harmonize the Euro-Atlantic security principles have been rejected," the minister said. 

"NATO’s course towards eastward expansion at any price, without exaggeration, is deepening division lines on the continent," Lavrov said.

"When this course that is undermining the balance of interests and stability in Europe lost its footing in Ukraine there were attempts of shifting the fault on Russia," he said.

Europe made no efforts to "force the organizers of the armed coup [in Ukraine] to implement the agreement on peaceful settlement and create the government of national accord that they had signed with the mediation of Germany, France and Poland," Lavrov said.

"Moreover, it’s regrettable that our Western partners closed their eyes on the nationalist positions of those who seized power in Kiev and those who demanded eradicating all Russian in Ukraine," he said. "Unfortunately, we saw nothing similar to the demands that would indeed reflect a principal position of Europe in line with the OSCE documents that do not allow seizure of power by force."

"The settlement in Ukraine can be achieved only by consistently implementing the Minsk Package of Measures," he said.

Lavrov added that "Russia will be sure to travel its part of the path (to implement the Minsk agreements - TASS) and will encourage the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics (DPR, LPR) to act in a constructive way."

The relations with NATO

 According to Lavrov, NATO does not want to discuss the restoration of relations with Russia.

"We did not discontinue the activities of the NATO-Russia Council (in 2008 - TASS)," the minister said. "By the beginning of winter our Western colleagues admitted that it was a mistake, adopted solemn declarations saying that the NATO-Russia Council should work in any weather, especially in times of crisis."

However, according to Lavrov, this mistake was repeated again. "The NATO-Russia Council is frozen," he said. "The fact that a couple of ambassadorial meetings were held does not change anything."

"NATO does not want to discuss the restoration of relations," he said. "During the latest meeting last month we handed over specific proposals on restoring military cooperation, especially in terms of building confidence in this area."

West uses double standards in Syria, Yemen

Lavrov has pointed to Western double standards in evaluating the humanitarian situation in Syria and Yemen.

"Germany is our key partner not only in European affairs, but also in addressing global issues, including resolution of conflicts and efforts to counter international terrorism and extremism," he said. "There can be no double standards here, because, for example, the humanitarian crisis in Syria occupies a central place in the political rhetoric of Western statesmen, while the humanitarian situation in Yemen is carefully overlooked."

According to Lavrov, the situation in Yemen is described as a humanitarian disaster. "There is food for thought here how to make sure that approaches to the Libyan, Yemeni and Iraqi crises are based on the solid ground of common standards centering around the absolute priority - the eradication of terrorism," he said.

He also voiced confidence that "the main emphasis should be placed on promoting the positive, unifying agenda rather than on disagreements.".

The Russia-Germany ties

Lavrov went on to say that relations between Russia and Germany are going through the most difficult period since the unification of Germany.

"Today the Russian-German relations are going through a difficult period," the minister said. "I think this is the most difficult period since Germany’s unification that occurred with our country’s active and decisive role."

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