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Brussels deliberately destroyed framework of Russia-EU ties, says Lavrov

The Russian minister underlined that these meetings were meant to conduct full reviews of all areas of cooperation between Moscow and Brussels

ST. PETERSBURG, February 15. /TASS/. Russia is ready to discuss all existing problems with the EU, but the framework of the relations was intentionally dismantled by Brussels, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday following talks with his Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto.

"We are ready to discuss the problems. When it is in Russia’s interests, we cooperate on the issues of climate change, on environmental issues," the Russian minister said. "However, the carcass of these relations was deliberately destroyed on Brussels’ initiative."

Sporadic contacts

The EU, Lavrov continued, has been consistently severing ties with Moscow. He emphasized that Brussels gradually destroyed all mechanisms that existed on the basis of the agreement on partnership and cooperation, including the summits that were held twice a year, annual meetings between the Russian government and European Commissioners and President of the Commission, projects to form four common spaces, more than 20 sectoral dialogues and annual meetings of the Partnership and Cooperation Council involving the Russian foreign minister and EU high representative.

The Russian minister underlined that these meetings were meant to conduct full reviews of all areas of cooperation between Moscow and Brussels. "All of this, I reiterate, was not destroyed by us," Lavrov stressed. The minister then added that Russia-EU contacts can now be described as sporadic. "The contacts between the Russian foreign minister and high representatives, Josep Borrell and his predecessor Federica Mogherini, are mainly dedicated to situational talks about Syria, the Iranian nuclear program or some other international situation rather than reviews of the relations with the EU because there are almost no relations to speak of," Lavrov underlined. "In other words, we meet from time to time depending on certain interests, primarily from Brussels. We are not imposing ourselves, we are ready to consider any issue which can be of mutual interest, but in any case the meetings that take place from time to time do not mean that there are relations," he added.

Enabling violations

The minister paid special attention to the fact that Brussels enables brazen violations of rights of Russian speakers and attacks on the Russian language and culture in the Baltic States, Ukraine and several other states. "Of course, we cannot but take into account the EU condoning blatant breaches of Russian speakers, Russians and the attacks on the Russian language and culture that we witness in the Baltic States, Ukraine and some other countries. When Russian-speaking [TV] channels are shut down, when criminal cases are opened against Russian-speaking journalists for simply doing their jobs, when the disgraceful institute of statelessness remains in the EU, while the European Union watches it all without any desire to change anything, I believe that it is not Russia distancing itself from the EU, but the very EU moves away from the Russian language, Russian culture and all things Russian, meaning that it is drifting away from the Russian Federation," the minister noted.

Not leaving Europe

At the same time, the top Russian diplomat emphasized, Russia will be ready to revive the ties if the EU decides to take this step. "It is up to the European Union to make a choice. If it decided that relations are to be resumed after all and steps towards their severing are to be reversed, we will be ready to that too," he said.

Nevertheless, Lavrov underlined that Russia is not going to leave Europe and intends to continue engaging in mutually beneficial cooperation. "The European Union is not the same as Europe. We are not going away from Europe. We have a lot of friends, a lot of like-minded people in Europe. We will continue to develop mutually beneficial relations with them," he concluded.