Answers to questions of the mass media by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, summarising the results of his negotiations with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, Paris, 5 June 2014
Question: Is this the first meeting after a two-month break?
Sergey Lavrov: But why – I communicated with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry. I think that two months have not passed since we talked last time. Moreover, we talk on the phone regularly.
Today we discussed the entire spectrum of our relations, but, of course, with the emphasis on the situation around Ukraine, which (and it is evident) affects these relations. We heard the reaction to our numerous appeals to turn the attention that Ukraine still needs to act in such a way to follow the agreements reached in the United States and the European Union in the context of the Geneva Statement of the 17 April and the “roadmap” developed by the Current OSCE President, Swiss President, Didier Burkhalter, on the basis of this statement. The “roadmap” described in detail the steps, which we all want to see in Ukraine and which depend primarily on Ukraine.
John Kerry agreed that the situation should be returned into this track, not allowing to antagonise the current events in Ukraine. He admitted that the main requirement, which we included into the Geneva Statement and which was formalised in the Agreement of the 21 February, is to stop any violence. We confirmed the need to stop the military operation (the so-called “counter-terrorism operation”) immediately, which is beyond any reasonable framework. You know that artillery and military aviation “are working” on civilian quarters, more and more civilians die.
We assume that our US partners have not heard us. We hope that their influence on the current Kiev authorities, to the elected President Petro Poroshenko, will be used to stop the process of escalation of tensions and confrontation, to announced cease fire (we have been appealing to this for a long time), which would allow to start interaction between both Ukrainian parties convincing them to sit at the negotiation table and start agreeing, which should be done to make their country peaceful and stable. But this envisages, primarily, a constitutional process with participation of all the political forces and regions to develop the framework, which will be comfortable, will ensure security, legal, cultural, language and other rights of all the people living in Ukraine. I think that we have such mutual understanding.
I focused the attention of my colleague that some actions by the United States and the European Union, which have been made lately (the session within the framework of NATO, the meeting between G7 leaders, statements adopted there), do not help to create the atmosphere for constructive dialogue, but, on the contrary, raise illusions in some Kiev leader that they are allowed to do everything. This is unacceptable approach, which will not lead to anything good. I hope that John Kerry has heard me.
I repeat that ceremonial events devoted to the landing of allied troops in Normandy will be held tomorrow. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin will participate in them. We want to pay tribute to the memory of all those, who created the Second Front and supported the victorious advancement of the Red Army. I think that this will be a good cause to combine our efforts to prevent new conflicts in the European continent so that we find ways and means to restore peace in Ukraine. However, only Ukrainians can do this. But we should help them, and no external player affecting different Ukrainian parties should escalate tensions and provoke intransigence, provoke one or other actions of any party, which will be programmed for the achievement of victory over the other part of the Ukrainian people. This is something we should do tomorrow.
Question: In this regard, could you please specify whether the Secretary of State said that he could influence Petro Poroshenko?
Sergey Lavrov: We talked that we need to affect all the Ukrainian parties, send signals to the President, who was elected by the Ukrainian people and is going to be inaugurated. We have no doubts that our US partners can influence Petro Poroshenko. This is confirmed by the fact that the elected President Petro Poroshenko made his first visit not to Donbass, as he planned, but to Poland to meet the President Barack Obama.
Question: For its part, did Russia express readiness to affect the South-Eastern regions, opponents of the Kiev authorities, to the Donetsk Republic?
Sergey Lavrov: The Donetsk and Lugansk popular republics are headed by people, who believe that it is unacceptable to take unilateral decision, which were adopted after the coup d’état. It is clear that this confrontation cannot be eternal. And it is also clear that the people, who categorically disagree to the overthrowing of the authorities in Kiev and the way of seizing power, have all the right to defend their positions. Finally, they are not concerned about methods and forms, but about the nature of this question. The thing is that they have their own rights, they want to defend their culture, their traditions, celebrate their holidays rather than anniversaries of Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera, they want to talk their language and teach children in the language, which they consider to their mother tongue. They want the authorities in the regions, where they live, local government and local authorities elected by the people, who live in the region.
I believe that these are not unreasonable requirements. These are absolutely legitimate requirements in any civilised society from the point of view of any conventions on human rights, which were adopted and are in force in Europe. I believe that the main thing now is to respond to wishes of the people to start a dialogue about reaching of agreements about joint co-habitation, how different Ukrainian regions can interact with each other. Murders of civilians must be stopped to start such a talk. Both parties, all the parties (there is the so-called third power there) must stop violence.
I am convinced that the first step should be made by those, who consider themselves responsible for the security of their state – primarily the people, who elected themselves authorities. This is a law of politics, this is inevitable. Of course, the first step must be an end to the so-called “counter-terrorism operation”, which is in fact a punitive operation. I am convinced that in this case Lugansk and Donetsk will do, what they told about many times: they will be ready to stop fire and sit at the negotiation table. It does not matter whether they do this with or without mediators. The main thing is to stop fire and to start a dialogue.
Question: Will Russia attempt to influence the Donetsk and Lugansk popular republics, if Petro Poroshenko stops fire and stops the operation?
Sergey Lavrov: We, we do not need to attempt to do this. The main thing is to stop violence from all sides. All those who affect the different Ukrainian parties must contribute to this. The first step (and I believe that it cannot be doubted) should be made by the Ukrainian authorities, who must withdraw their decision to use the army against their people. I think that the elected President Petro Poroshenko, as the President of Russia Vladimir Putin said yesterday, has a unique opportunity to make such a step, which would be a signal to the unity and negotiations about reaching of agreements.