Belt and Road international forum

Mr President Xi Jinping, heads of state and governments, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, It is a great honour for me to participate in the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road international forum. President Xi Jinping informed us about his plans to hold such a representative event back in September at the Russian-Chinese summit in Hangzhou. Of course, we supported this initiative immediately. Possible concepts for the forum were presented even earlier. Without a doubt, these plans allow for discussion of the huge Eurasian continent’s future in an extended format. Our continent is the home of great civilisations. Peoples of diverse cultures and traditions have lived alongside each other and engaged in trade for centuries.

Excerpts from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with Channel One’s Vremya weekly news and analysis programme, Beijing, May 14, 2017

This time, in our contacts we focused on the initiative put forward by Donald Trump in the early days of his presidency, when he proposed creating security or de-escalation areas free from any military action, the only exception being terrorists, if any, who were to be chased away from these areas so that civilians would feel safe. As you know, building on this agreement, several days ago at the meeting held in Astana, we agreed on a memorandum with Turkey, Iran, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the armed opposition, establishing zones of this kind in four regions of Syria, with the intention to have the whole Syrian territory covered by this initiative in the future.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions following the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, Fairbanks, May 11, 2017

Russia affirmed its commitment to resolving all issues that may arise in the Arctic through political talks and in full compliance with the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, which sets forth all the necessary provisions for solving any issues related to the Arctic. In our opinion, there are no issues that could require military action. Our partners agree. We reminded them that until 2013 the regular meetings held by the eight Arctic counties included annual meetings of their chiefs of general staff. In 2014, Russia’s partners decided to suspend this format, although it is my belief that it did not help build trust or promote cooperation and mutual understanding, if anyone was interested in doing so, as we reminded our colleagues today. I think that this made them think whether the decision to suspend this very useful format had been the right thing to do.

Statement by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council, Fairbanks, USA, May 11, 2017

Russia has been working hard to promote the development of the Arctic as a territory of peace, stability and cooperation. There is no potential for conflict here. International law is reliably protecting the national interests of the Arctic states, which bear special responsibility for long-term development in this region.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Washington DC, May 10, 2017

As to Syria, we first of all focused on the ideas that had been discussed during Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow when he shared his thoughts regarding de-escalation and safety. This was the initiative US President Donald Trump mentioned during his telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Secretary of State Tillerson later presented it in more detail in Moscow. The initiative is now being materialised in agreements concluded in Astana, where four de-escalation zones were proposed, including in the south, since the USA is particularly interested in stabilising the situation on Syria’s borders with Jordan and Israel. We are ready to cooperate on the issue.