Home » Press » International News » Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, Pretoria, January 23, 2023

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, Pretoria, January 23, 2023

Thank you for the invitation, Ms Minister. As I said when we met previously on the sidelines of BRICS, you invited me to visit South Africa and I promised to come. Thank you for your hospitality, for organising these events in the most productive way.

I support your assessment of Russia-South African relations, including the regular political dialogue between our leaders, active contacts between our MPs during bilateral visits and the Inter-Parliamentary Union meetings.

Recently, the Task Force of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on Ukraine held a meeting that was co-chaired by the speakers of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the National Assembly of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa. The meeting took place under G20 aegis. We appreciate the regular contacts and cooperation between our ruling parties – the African National Congress and United Russia.

Dialogue between our ministries is based on trust. It is open and sincere. I cannot help mentioning the contacts between our military and our defence ministries, including Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of South Africa Thandi Modise who regularly attends events organised by Defence Minister of Russia Sergey Shoigu. Her latest visit took place in August 2022 when she attended the Army-2022 International Military-Technical Forum.

We maintain productive cooperation in the economy, outer space, natural resources and high technology. A meeting of the Mixed Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation will take place soon; the co-chairs have already agreed to hold it. We are also developing humanitarian cooperation and promoting contacts in education and culture. We are doing all this in the interests of the peoples of our countries. Thank you for paying attention to these important aspects of bilateral relations.

As you said, we have good relations between our representatives in the United Nations. I would also like to note the need for reform in the UN Security Council. We firmly support the idea that the Security Council should represent more developing nations, primarily from Africa and Latin America. The lack of their representation is a key problem in the UN Security Council. We appreciate our cooperation in the G20. The latest summit in Indonesia showed that the majority of G20 members want to focus on the initial mandate of the group and abstain from politicising its agenda items.

We are looking forward to South Africa’s Chairmanship of BRICS. The agenda is busy, especially in the context of the world’s economy and finances. All of us favour the peaceful settlement of conflicts. We are always ready to discuss negotiated settlements of any conflicts on the ground.

Unfortunately, most of the conflicts provoked by our Western colleagues have not improved the world situation in any way. This is what the world has inherited.

As for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, it is well known that we supported Ukraine’s proposals to hold meetings at the beginning of the special military operation. By late March 2022 in Istanbul, both delegations harmonised the principles for settling this conflict. This is common knowledge. Our American, British and European colleagues wrote about it. However, later the Western countries told Ukraine that it was too early to sit at the negotiating table. Kiev has not returned to this issue since. In September 2022, President Vladimir Zelensky signed an executive order banning all Ukrainian officials from conducting talks with the Russian Federation. The situation is obvious in terms of the lack of talks.

We highly appreciate South Africa’s position of principle that was recently reflected in Ms Pandor’s interview with the RIA Novosti news agency. I respect the openness and responsible approach that you demonstrated as regards the fundamental, vital interests of South Africa and its people.

I am looking forward to productive talks. Thank you for your hospitality.

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