Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Yalta, September 15, 2017

Saturday, 16 September 2017 21:15

I will begin with disturbing events and speak on what has happened in the London Underground. In connection with the incident at the Parson's Green station in the morning of September 15, where, according to preliminary data, an explosion took place, we strongly recommend people avoid the station and nearby quarters. Police officers, a fire brigade and ambulances arrived at the scene at 8.20 am. At the moment, the authorities are calling the incident a terrorist attack. The Russian Embassy in London is in contact with the police to find out the number of victims and possible presence of Russian citizens among them.
Hotline numbers are available on the website of the embassy for Russian citizens who need help or have useful information. There have been no calls so far, but I repeat: you can use them, the hotlines at the embassy are working.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 72nd UN General Assembly

The central event of the upcoming week will be the participation of the Russian delegation in the 72nd UN General Assembly, which started its work on September 12. In the framework of this major international forum, the UN member states will discuss a wide range of current global and regional issues.
The Russian delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. On September 21, he will take part in the UN General Assembly general debate.
Mr Lavrov’s schedule in New York includes several dozen high-level events and bilateral meetings. He will take part in traditional meetings of foreign ministers in the multilateral and regional formats, including the CSTO, SCO, BRICS, BSEC, CTBT, CICA, CELAC and others, and also in high-level meetings on current issues on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Mr Lavrov also plans to meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and President of the 72nd UN General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak.
We have been consistently advocating a polycentric world order and equal indivisible security for all countries, with unconditional respect for the sovereignty and the rights of nations to choose their own way.
In this context, we will call for adherence to the principle of supremacy of international law and the UN Charter, as well as the Charter prerogatives of the UN Security Council, which bears primary responsibility for international peace and security.
In accordance with our national interests, we will firmly oppose historical distortions and World War II revisionism in the UN. In line with these efforts and the struggle against all forms and manifestations of racism, discrimination and xenophobia, Russia will again submit to the UN General Assembly the draft resolution entitled “Combatting the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that fuel contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” Traditionally, the document enjoys the support of an impressive majority of the UN member states. However, not every delegation has the political will to oppose the glorification of Nazis and their accomplices in some countries. We hope that the delegations that opposed this draft or abstained from voting on it back in 2016 will revise their position on this matter.
We will support the UN reform, initiated by the new Secretary-General. This reform should adapt the UN to modern realities while preserving the UN’s intergovernmental character and strictly observing the Charter’s principle of division of responsibilities among the major UN bodies. This applies to the maintenance of peace and security, pursuing development goals and organisation of management.
We are ready to work actively on the reform of the Security Council in order to make it more representative without compromising its efficiency and operational responsiveness.
We support realistic initiatives to optimise the activities of the UN General Assembly. We believe the focus should be on adjusting its working methods and streamlining the overloaded agenda.
Russian priorities include preventing the deployment of weapons in near-Earth space. That is the goal pursued by the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on preventing the placement of weapons in outer space and the threat or use of force against outer space objects, as well as globalising Russia's initiative to secure political commitments by states not to be the first to place weapons in outer space as an interim measure to strengthen security and confidence. Following tradition, we will submit the relevant draft resolution to the First Committee of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.
We are ready to work constructively with other delegations to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, without shifting or selectively deleting priorities. Together we will help bolster the UN’s peacekeeping activities and make them more effective, further develop norms of international law on the UN platform, and take effective measures in anti-drug, anti-crime and anti-corruption cooperation.

Forthcoming meeting of the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs

I would like to make special mention of one of the events that is to take place during the 72nd UN General Assembly session. On September 20, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which is to be held in New York on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly.
This will be the first Council meeting held in an expanded format with the participation of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan, which became full SCO members in June 2017.
The agenda of the meeting includes discussing priority tasks and goals in the SCO’s activities in this new stage. The participants will also exchange views on topical global and regional issues with a focus on consolidating the SCO’s international role.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is expected to take part in the event.

Reception at the Foreign Ministry for the Islamic New Year

On September 25, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold a traditional reception at the Foreign Ministry Reception House on the occasion of the Islamic New Year in honour of the heads of the diplomatic missions of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states. High-ranking employees of the Presidential Executive Office and the Government, Religious Board of the Muslims of Russian, the Russian Orthodox Church, public and political organisations, prominent figures in Russian science and arts and media representatives were also invited.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will deliver a welcome address in which he will assess the status of relations between Russia and OIC member states and outline Russia’s fundamental approaches to issues that are important to Islamic countries.

Developments in Syria

After a major victory at Deir ez-Zor the Syrian Army continues clean-up operations against ISIS terrorists in the eastern regions of the country. The suburbs of that provincial centre are free now. Advance units have forced the crossing of the Euphrates and gained a foothold on its eastern bank.
Social infrastructure facilities are re-opening in Deir ez-Zor. The Russian military have organised deliveries of fuel, food, medicines and school supplies to the city that was besieged by ISIS for over three years.
ISIS militants have been successfully driven out of the long-suffering Syrian land and now de-miners from Russia and Syrian engineering troops have finally been able to move in and start removing deadly mines and destroying caches of armaments and explosives that can be found in abundance after the expulsion of the terrorists.
During the over six years of the Syrian conflict, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tonnes of various explosives and armaments passed through terrorists’ hands. Now they threaten the country’s civilian population and prevent economic recovery. The UN and countries that sincerely wish to help the Syrian people should be actively involved in humanitarian mine clearance.
Liberating vast areas in the east of Syria from terrorists, establishing de-escalation zones and making national reconciliation committees more effective are creating the conditions for ramping up humanitarian assistance. It is vital to rapidly restore schools and hospitals and water and power supply, to organise the uninterrupted supply of medications and medical equipment, food and basic necessities, construction materials and machinery to the country. This assistance could become a real contribution to supporting stabilisation and creating a favourable environment for a political settlement in Syria.
We believe that it is crucially important for everyone, who wants peace for that country’s people, to help Syria. Currently all conditions are in place for assistance to reach the intended recipient. We call for international humanitarian agencies, relevant UN institutions and UN member states to urgently take necessary steps in this direction and to cooperate with the Syrian authorities in a constructive way in matters of deliveries and distribution of humanitarian supplies.
An urgent problem is the restoration of historical and cultural monuments in Syria, many of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Long-suffering Palmyra is only one such site. Saving historical monuments, in our opinion, is an absolutely depoliticised activity and so it should be. It cannot in any way be linked to someone’s liking or disliking the current Syrian government because we are talking about world civilisation heritage. We hope that members of the international community will make the necessary major efforts to find and return to Syria those historical artifacts and antiquities that were stolen from its territory. The international community’s coordinated activities to lend effective support to the Syrian people could dramatically improve the humanitarian situation in Syria and also contribute to real progress on the way to a comprehensive peaceful settlement in that country on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

Developments in Myanmar's Rakhine State

We continue watching the developments in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Tensions have subsided to a certain extent. Since September 7 of this year, no major armed clashes have been recorded between the Government troops and the militants of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
On September 13, the UN Security Council members, including Russia, expressed serious concern over the situation in the region. They urged immediate measures to put an end to violence, reduce tensions, restore law and order, guarantee protection of civilians, reestablish normal socio-economic conditions and resolve the refugee problem in the Rakhine State.
At present Myanmar’s military transport planes are delivering food, medicines and other humanitarian relief to the Rakhine State. Mobile medical posts are receiving local people; destroyed infrastructure facilities are being restored. Another trip to the north of the Rakhine State has been organised for local and foreign media accredited in the country. We hope the practice of providing humanitarian relief and granting journalists access to the districts damaged by armed clashes will continue.
We welcome the measures taken by the Myanmar Government to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State headed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
With this aim in view, Myanmar established a committee headed by Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Win Myat Aye, which includes representatives of law enforcement and economic departments. They will be assisted by relevant local and foreign experts.
We note that the Myanmar authorities are helping internally displaced persons to return to the places of their permanent residence. (According to the available information, about 2,000 have already come back home.) We hope similar measures will be taken as regards other categories of people involved in the migration crisis.
We support the efforts to develop inter-religious dialogue with the participation of the spiritual leaders of all religions in Myanmar.
In this context, we paid attention to the collective statement by the leading organisations representing Myanmar’s multi-ethnic Muslim community. They denounced the armed actions of radicals in the Rakhine State and urged their brethren-in-faith not to yield to extremist provocations.
It is important to understand that an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state may only further exacerbate religious strife.
I would like to emphasise again that we support the efforts to promote in Myanmar inter-religious dialogue involving the spiritual leaders of all religions.

Situation on the Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s latest violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions is a source of deep regret. On September 15, it launched a medium-range ballistic missile over Japanese territory – several days after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2375. We would like to emphasise again the need for its strict observance.
We are convinced that now it is more important than ever before for all parties involved to stop escalating tensions that are accompanying every new round of reactions and counter reactions. It is necessary to stop and thoroughly weigh the consequences of one’s steps and revise the policy of reciprocal pressure and intimidation, which is absolutely counterproductive.
We believe the only way out lies in political and diplomatic settlement and the launch of the negotiating process on the basis of the Russian-Chinese roadmap. Settling the Korean Peninsula problem exclusively by peaceful means is in the interests of the entire world community. We are inviting all interested countries to pool efforts and to do their best to reach our common goal as soon as possible.

Incident at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw

I would like to draw attention to a serious and alarming incident that occurred at the OSCE HDIM on September 11 in Warsaw and give a clear unambiguous account. This annual event, which is organised by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, is a specialised international forum providing an opportunity for a multilateral dialogue between OSCE member states and representatives of civil society. All registered participants have the right to express their views on the state of affairs in their countries and in the world as a whole.
This year there was an unprecedented case. At the first meeting, dedicated to freedom of expression and media and information issues, the Ukrainian delegation demanded that a member of the Union of Journalists of Russia, a member of the journalism community of the Republic of Crimea, Andrey Trofimov, have his microphone disconnected.
After speaking with the organisers of the meeting, Mr Trofimov was nevertheless given the floor at the following meetings. However, after speaking at the meeting venue itself, threats were addressed to him. An unknown person, who hid his accreditation badge in his breast pocket so that he could not be identified, insulted Mr Trofimov and threatened that his name would be included in the sanctions lists, and his personal data would be published on the notorious Mirotvorets website.
Let me remind you that this website, in violation of international law, publishes personal data of people considered by the site owners to be “accomplices of terrorists”. Instead of closing this illegitimate site, the Ukrainian authorities, in fact, continue to support it. How else can we interpret the fact that it is not just accessible, but continues to be updated and supplemented with new names?
The Russian side drew the attention of the organisers of the OSCE Meeting and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir to this outrageous case and demanded that measures be taken to prevent such incidents from reoccurring.

EU Council’s extension of personal sanctions against individuals and legal entities of Russia and southeastern Ukraine

We took note that on September 14, 2017, the EU Council once again rubber stamped the decision to extend personal sanctions against individuals and legal entities of Russia and southeastern Ukraine until March 2018.
For us, this was not a surprise, given the prejudicial approaches of the European Union to the internal conflict in Ukraine and the reluctance to give an honest assessment of Kiev's actions to undermine the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
I would like to recall that in response to the unfriendly actions of the EU, a Russian “stop list” was adopted, which also remains in force.

2nd Radio Without Borders Festival

From September 27 to September 29, the second Radio Without Borders International Industry Festival will be held in Kazan.
This event is unique in its field and creates opportunities for representatives of leading radio broadcasters from Russia and around the world to share experiences and discuss current industry issues.
The programme will include round tables and workshops, as well as a competition of radio projects, in which journalists from domestic and foreign radio stations are invited to participate.
I would like to remind you that you can go to the official website of the Russian Academy of Radio (www.radioacademy.ru) now and fill out a registration application. Accreditation will last until September 25.
We hope to see you at the Radio Without Borders Festival. This should probably be said by the Russian Academy of Radio, but I will take the opportunity and do it for them. I think that this will be a useful experience, including for journalists of Crimea.

To be continued...

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