Transcript of Remarks and Replies to Media Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Press Conference Following Talks with Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Seyoum Mesfin (Moscow, January 13, 2005)
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Talks with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin have just concluded. We discussed the full range of bilateral and international problems as well as the issues of conflict settlement in Africa.
The talks have again confirmed that Russian-Ethiopian relations are developing along an ascending line, based on the deep-going, age-old, historical, cultural and spiritual ties of our peoples and countries.
We stated that since the visit of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to the Russian Federation in December 2001 and the signing in Moscow of the Declaration on the Principles of Friendly Relations and Partnership, our political dialogue had been developing in line with the accords of our two leaders, very intensively and productively.
We also noted that we should pay greater attention to trade-and-economic ties, because they obviously mismatch the potential that exists between our countries in this field. We agreed that this year, approximately in the middle of the year, the 3rd regular meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Ethiopian Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation and Trade would be held, and that, within this commission, mechanisms for tracking the progress in carrying out the trade-and-economic agreements should be established. We touched upon specific ways to encourage the business circles of the two countries to become more actively involved in the work of the Intergovernmental Commission and in the trade, economic and investment ties of Russia and Ethiopia as a whole.
We thoroughly discussed the situation in the various conflict zones in Africa and in particular we, as the Russian side, have supported the recent initiatives of Ethiopia for achieving progress in Ethiopian-Eritrean settlement. We especially noted the firm intention of Addis Ababa to seek a peaceful settlement of this dispute in cooperation with the UN and the African Union. We highly assessed the peacekeeping role which Ethiopia plays in resolving the conflicts in Sudan and Somalia.
We discussed in detail the prospects for Russian cooperation with the African Union, both in peacekeeping, and in the development of economic ties and collaboration by the Russian Federation with sub-regional groups on the African continent.
As to global issues and other international affairs, we devoted special attention to the necessity of strengthening the unity of the antiterrorist coalition and the central role of the UN in the struggle against present-day threats and of subordinating the discussions on UN reform to the task of a comprehensive adaptation of multilateral structures to the challenges of today.
I consider that the talks were very fruitful and corresponding to the task set by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Question: Please comment on the results of the elections in Abkhazia from the viewpoint of the prospects for resolving the conflict with Georgia?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: From the very beginning of the situation that evolved following the elections in Abkhazia, we invariably stressed that the sooner it was resolved, the sooner it would be possible to return to the creation of conditions for the resumption of talks between Tbilisi and Sukhumi on Georgian-Abkhaz settlement. I expect that now, when the matter is over, it will be possible to resume such talks, considering that there are the mechanisms available, in the form of the Group of Friends of Georgia, in which Russia participates as a facilitator. So I think this should be perceived by all from this vantage point exactly.
Question: Today Senator M. V. Margelov said an intensive schedule of visits is expected. Thus, the visits of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad and the elected PNA Head Mahmoud Abbas are ahead. Could you specify the dates of the visits and their topics?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: The visit to Russia of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad is expected within this month. Mahmoud Abbas was invited to Russia, and his proposals as to the date are being expected soon.
It is needless to say that questions of bilateral relations will be discussed, because with Syria and Palestine Russia has ramified, comprehensive ties. Of course, we will touch on the situation in the Middle East, where against the background of expectations in Palestinian-Israeli relations there should be no forgetting about the need for an all-embracing approach, which includes the Israeli-Syrian and the Israeli-Lebanese tracks.