Transcript of Remarks and Response to Media Questions by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov at Joint Press Conference Following Meeting with Kazakhstan Minister of Foreign Affairs Marat Tazhin, May 5, 2008


Foreign Minister Lavrov:

Good evening, esteemed colleagues. It has been my very great pleasure to welcome to Moscow my Kazakh counterpart and friend the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Marat Mukhambetkaziyevich Tazhin.

We have discussed a very extensive range of questions: practically all topical questions on our bilateral agenda and all questions relating to regional and international affairs.

The focus of our attention was the preparations for a scheduled visit to Kazakhstan of the President-elect of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev. We agreed a number of working moments of this visit, and looked at the progress in its content filling. The fact that the new President of the Russian Federation will make his first visit precisely to Astana underlines the priority of Russian-Kazakhstan relations for us.

On topical issues concerning today’s world pattern, security, and regional politics, our approaches are close or coincide. We agreed not to stop at the past achievements level, to build on our cooperation and to coordinate even more closely efforts in regional and international organizations, particularly since Kazakhstan in 2010 will head up the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

I am convinced that our comprehensive interaction to deepen our strategic partnership meets the vital interests of the peoples of our countries and helps to reinforce stability in the Central Asian region and in the international arena as a whole.

Question: What strategic areas will the presidents discuss at their upcoming meeting?

Foreign Minister Lavrov (speaks after Tazhin): I can only add that there is not one sphere of activity, not one area of foreign policy endeavor, which would not be the subject of our partnership. And naturally enough, our presidents determine a strategy in each of these fields. I am convinced that the meeting in Astana will be no exception.

Question: Sergey Viktorovich, the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday said the six nations in their offers should avoid crossing Iran’s “red lines,” and later Ayatollah Khomeini said economic sanctions will have no effect on the will of the people of Iran. You met with your six-nation partners in London on Friday and allegedly endorsed some new proposals. What is the essence of the new offers to Iran and the conditions related to them? Don’t you think that the request to halt uranium enrichment activities is a crossing of those “red lines”?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: The London discussions centered on fulfillment of the accord that had been reached on adoption of the latest UN Security Council resolution. And this accord is reflected in the Statement by the six Foreign Ministers. The statement was published simultaneously with this resolution, and it was about the necessity to develop the positive incentives that are offered to Iran in case of start of negotiations. Therefore in London we engaged in just this, and it was in this vein that we finalized the proposals earlier transmitted to Iran. They all deal with constructive areas of cooperation with Iran in the context of a start of negotiations proposed by us. There are no threats there, so there is no question of a crossing of the “red lines.”

It’s another matter that suddenly for me our Western European colleagues of the six-nation talks held in London tried in today’s meeting, which was being held in the context of the upcoming review of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to so present matters as though in London we had been agreeing on some toughening of our positions on Iran. We have already conveyed to them that this is an absolute distortion of what occurred in London. There were no such understandings as our partners are now trying to present. This, generally speaking, is the incorrect behavior of those with whom we agreed to develop a package of positive incentives. That package of positive incentives is there. It is the only result of the London meeting of the six foreign ministers. It will be transmitted to the Iranian side within the time to be arranged with them. Of course, since this package is meant for Iran, then Iran should also learn what it contains first. Therefore I cannot enlarge on the content of the package; I will only repeat that it is a package of additional positive incentives.

Question: Mr. Lavrov, Georgia has today declared that it is withdrawing from the Air Defense Cooperation Treaty with Russia. Please can you comment on this?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: You know, I cannot comment on the Georgian side’s actions in every instance. It seems to me that these actions evidence a definite line. And the line, unfortunately, consists in undermining all the agreements; primarily those concerning settlement of the South Ossetian and Abkhaz conflicts. I have not heard that Georgia has withdrawn from a treaty with Russia. But I want to say that we are extremely concerned about the tendency that consists in whipping up confrontation and, as we can judge from ever more alarming facts, in attempting to solve these conflicts by force. This would be extremely bad for the region. Hopefully all those still having some influence on the position of the Georgian leadership will use this time to prevent such a development of events. For our part, we will do everything to ensure that this does not happen.