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MOSCOW, September 13. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov believes that the current estrangement in relations between the European Union and Russia will not become strategic.
“Voices of reason can be heard in the EU already now,” Lavrov said in the Right to Know talk show on the TV Tsentr channel. “We have absolutely no expectations that the estrangement will become strategic. Russia is interested to see our strategic partnership with the European Union to get stronger and develop.”
In this context the chief Russian diplomat emphasized again the importance of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initiative for creating “a common space of security and economic and humanitarian affairs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific in the context of equitable, indivisible security and the use of competitive advantages in our very uneasy era, when in the economy one has to have partners and comparative advantages.”
“If the potentials of Russia and the European Union are put together, stronger positions on the world markets will benefit both parties,” he explained.
Lavrov recalled that at last January’s meeting with the EU leaders Putin “suggested beginning consultations by experts on the possibility of creating a zone of free trade zone between the European Union, the Customs Union and, in the longer term, with the a yet-to-be formed Eurasian Economic Union with a view to creating such a zone by 2020.”
He said that such a proposal should be considered “as the first practical step so that no one should think that we just proposed this slogan but do not wish to fill it with practical content.”
“This idea is alive and relevant and draws interest in various respects, including the context of the current events in the economic sphere between Ukraine and the EU and Ukraine and the CIS free trade zone,” Lavrov said. “This would answer many questions.
The West’s attempts to undermine Russia’s partnership with Latin American, Asian and African countries are unprecedented, Lavrov said.
“We know that not only American emissaries, but also European ones, are sent to the capitals of all countries of the world to convey to the leadership of these countries the demand, the strong request not to support Russia, to join the Western sanctions and refrain from steps that will develop their relations with Russia,” the minister told TV Tsentr’s Pravo Znat programme /The Right to Know/.
“This is an unprecedented situation for me. Such campaigns basically undermine Russia’s relations with its partners,” he said.
Lavrov said it would be wrong to compare the current situation with the 1980s. “There was nothing like this before. Maybe just once when the U.S. decided to boycott the Olympics in the Soviet Union,” he said.
Lavrov could not recall anything like this even after the South Korean plane accident. “I can’t remember anything like this. I was working in New York at that time, at the United Nations. I remember this issue, it was discussed in the U.N. Security Council, but there was nothing like this back then,” the minister said.
He said Russia had started to develop relations with other regions and countries not because of the confrontation with the West.
“It is stated in our foreign policy concept since 2000 that we will develop relations with all regions and countries which are ready to cooperate on the basis of equality and mutual benefits,” he said.
“Portraying President Vladimir Putin’s trips to Latin America as an attempt to make up for the failed G8 summit in Sochi is nonsense. The BRICS summit was scheduled a year ago and no one even thought that it was some sort of alternative to Russia’s relations with the West. It’s not our approach,” Lavrov said.
Relations between Russia and the West deteriorated rapidly, but conditions for that had been piling up for a long time prior, he said.
“Long before the situation in Ukraine, there were calls to isolate and punish Russia. At first for the ‘Magnitsky case’, then for the refusal to support the change of regime in Syria, later on they took offence for Snowden and even took some practical steps to cancel U.S. President Barack
Obama’s visit to Moscow ahead of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg,” the minister said.
As for the coverage of preparations for the Sochi Olympics, it was also underlain by attempts to portray Russia as a looser-state, which can only waste lots of money for PR projects, he said.
“Unfortunately, our constructive reaction to such moves against us was ignored. As far back as January of this year, when a full-format Russia-EU summit was being planned and no state coup had yet occurred in Ukraine, the EU reformatted it into a small-talk lunch or dinner as there was no full-format discussion with European commissioners and Russian ministers,” Lavrov said.
In his opinion, the situation “if not getting totally out of control, is developing in a very confrontational way on the part of our Western partners”.
“The reason is very simple: the state coup in Ukraine was organised with the direct support, if not with encouragement, of the U.S. and Brussels,” he said.