26 January 2013, 14:35

Lavrov shares a view on 2012 foreign policy

Lavrov shares a view on 2012 foreign policy

Russia’s foreign policy agenda is currently focusing on the Middle East, North America and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The country’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a press conference on Thursday to comment on the results of Russia’s foreign policy in 2012.

As usually, the minister was repeatedly asked about Russia’s relations with the United States. Mr. Lavrov stressed that the Moscow-Washington dialogue has never run smoothly. The U.S. plans for a missile-defense system in Europe remain a major bone of contention in relations with Russia. New difficulties emerged concerning this issue last year. The two countries have seen a chill in relations after the US Congress adopted the Magnitsky Act which blacklists Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses. The anti-Soviet Jackson-Vanik amendment has been replaced with another anti-Russian bill. Russia reacted promptly on the U.S. decision, and this is how it will always happen in future, Mr. Lavrov said.

"We, despite anything, will react to unfriendly policies. But at the same time we are always ready to work together with our US partners on bringing our ties to a higher level. This, however, is possible only if both sides respect each other’s national interests." 

The Arab countries remain one of the major hotspots on the world map. The current situation in Syria and in the neighboring countries speaks for itself. Clashes and attacks happen almost daily. It has been nearly two years since the conflict in Syria flared up. The only thing the opposition wants is to oust President Bashar Assad. They are backed by some Western and Middle Eastern countries. Nobody, except Russia, China and the international Syria peace envoys (Kofi Annan and his successor Brahimi) has ever tried to persuade the opposing sides to hold peace talks. This definitely violates the principles outlined by the Action Group for Syria in Geneva last summer. “Choosing a different path to go is very risky”, Mr. Lavrov said.

"Militants whom France and the African Union have been fighting in Mali took part in the anti-Gaddafi uprising. They had received arms from the West. Now it is high time to look at the situation from a broader perspective and become aware that all these conflicts have something in common and are posing similar threats."

The WMD (weapons of mass destruction) issue has come to the forefront amid the ongoing violence in the Middle East. There is a risk that terrorists might access the WMD. Moscow believes that it is necessary to hold a conference to discuss the creation of a zone freeof weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and exchange views on Iran and North Korea`s nuclear ambitions. 

The UNSC has recently passed a resolution condemning North Korea`s December rocket launch. Mr. Lavrov said that the decision was then passed quickly and unanimously.

"Like nuclear tests, such rocket launches are banned by the UNSC. We expect North Korea to heed international opinion and agree on resuming the six-party talks."

Iran’s nuclear program evokes much concern as well. Nevertheless, it is very dangerous planning attacks on the country’s nuclear facilities and infrastructure, Sergei Lavrov said, adding that most countries do not approve such a scenario. The Russian foreign ministry chief urged the importance of a diplomatic solution to the Iranian issue. This is what Washington actually did when it came to security of US troops in Iraq. The Iranian issue, as well as other present-day conflicts cannot be solved by means of force, Mr. Lavrov said.

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