Ladies and gentlemen,
We held substantive talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand Don Pramudwinai. The talks took place in the traditional, friendly and trustful atmosphere.
The Kingdom is one of Russia’s most important partners in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region. We have a long history of relations. In 2022, we are celebrating the 125th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Russia and Thailand have organised many cultural and humanitarian events for this occasion.
Our relations rely on a firm foundation of friendship, constructive cooperation and mutual trust. We are developing our relations on exactly this foundation. During the talks, we exchanged views on current bilateral issues. We will promote increased contact between different departments, business circles and public organisations.
We focused on economic cooperation. In 2021, our trade grew by almost 30 percent to $2.28 billion, but it was somewhat lower in the first months of this year. We agreed to hold a regular meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, which Mr Minister co-chairs on the Thai side. We will use the meeting, which we hope to hold this year, to plan ways to restore positive trade dynamics. I am confident that today’s conversation will help determine specific areas in this process, including industry, agriculture, and energy, with nuclear energy, to name a few; hydrocarbons, food and fertiliser are also on the agenda. Today we discussed ways to meet the needs of our friends for these Russian goods.
We have a mutual understanding of the need to improve the contractual foundation of our relations, including the approval of documents ensuring reliable protection of the lawful rights of Russian citizens on the territory of Thailand. We supported the idea of increasing cultural, humanitarian and youth exchanges. We have a common interest in continuing the reputable practice of cooperation between our leading universities. In 2021, rectors of Russia and Thailand’s key universities held a videoconference. We agreed to continue this practice and also the awarding of grants to Thai students to attend Russian universities.
We have similar or identical positions on many urgent global and regional issues. We welcome the kingdom’s strong role in integration processes in the Asia-Pacific Region. Considering Bangkok’s chairmanship of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) this year, we agreed to continue our substantive discussion of APECs’ vast agenda, including preparations for its summit in Thailand this autumn.
We are grateful to our colleagues from Thailand for their balanced, unbiased and responsible position on the developments in Ukraine and around it and for understanding the true reasons for the emergence of the current international situation. We confirmed our willingness to share with our colleagues our detailed views on all developments. We also talked about international food security, in part in the context of artificially fuelled allegations blaming Russia for the crisis in the food and fertiliser markets. We cited facts to disprove them. On the contrary, our Western colleagues are not doing what was promised on behalf of the UN Secretary-General. Specifically, they are not exempting the logistics sanctions that prevent free access to Russian grain and fertiliser by world markets. We are working with the Secretary-General and his staff for the implementation of the UN-Russia agreements signed in Istanbul.
I consider these talks to be very practical. We reaffirmed our mutual desire to continue developing our cooperation, I appreciate our relations with Mr Minister and thank him for his visit.
Question: Liz Truss was elected leader of the British Conservative Party yesterday. Today, it will be formally announced that she is the country’s new prime minister. During her campaign, Liz Truss promised to continue tough anti-Russia policies and to provide comprehensive assistance to Kiev, including supplies of heavy weapons. How do you think Ms Truss’ appointment to the post of prime minister will effect Russian-British relations? Should we expect the West to step up its efforts to prolong the Ukrainian conflict given the stance adopted by the new head of the British government?
Sergey Lavrov: This event is being widely discussed around the world. The British media crunched some numbers and found that an absolute minority of eligible adult voters, subjects of the British crown, supported this candidate.
We are aware of British democracy’s inner workings. Only 160,000 people purported as Conservative Party members decide on the fate of the government. It is believed that if a party wins the general election, it can appoint the head person from within its own circle behind closed doors.
At some point, we discussed this with our British colleagues when they criticised our democratic system. We gave them this striking example. The British agreed that it was not the best approach, but, they say, everyone is accustomed to this state of affairs and it’s a tradition, that is why things in the UK remain unchanged. So, this prime minister was elected based on this “tradition” as well.
With regard to what Ms Truss had to say, she and I met in this building in early 2022 when she was Foreign Secretary. She is uncompromising when it comes to defending the interests of the United Kingdom and never takes into account the other party’s position or seeks compromise. I don’t think this will help maintain or reinvigorate that country’s position in the international arena, which was clearly impacted by leaving the European Union. For quite a while now, London has been trying to compensate for the loss of identity and influence in the EU by way of taking rather abrupt steps on the world stage, including through aggressive actions in the situation surrounding Ukraine. We are aware of this.
I think that before Ms Truss comes up with the final version of her obviously negative position towards Russia, dealing with her closest neighbours is a higher priority. Among other things, she needs to finally decide whether President Macron is a friend or an enemy. This question hangs in the air and remains without an answer. I think it is more important for the neighbours to sort this matter out first before looking far beyond their borders.
Question: Yesterday, during the interparliamentary conference on defence and security, head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell was asked by an Estonian parliamentarian about the specific steps he would take to inflict a strategic defeat on “fascist Russia.” In his response, the High Representative said nothing about this definition of Russia, and even repeated the term. What is your take on this kind of rhetoric from Mr. Borrell? Can we even talk about maintaining a relationship with the EU when high-level diplomats use this kind of language in their remarks and when answering questions?
Sergey Lavrov: This caught my eye. Josep Borrell not only chose not to argue with the deputy who came up with this unseemly language, but said that they did not yet have a concrete plan for defeating “fascist Russia” and the “fascist regime.” Thus, they do not question the goal, they just don’t have a “concrete plan” yet. This is far from the first time that Mr Borrell who, at the very least, is the formal head of EU diplomacy, is not talking about diplomatic methods, but constantly calls either to “defeat Russia on the battlefield” or increase arms supplies to Ukraine in order not to make any pauses in this military campaign.
The office of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy immediately refuted these claims and stated that Mr Borrell was speaking Spanish, that the English translation was inaccurate. We have asked the High Representative’s office for a transcript of his speech in Spanish. No luck so far. We will push for complete clarity.
If we don’t get this transcript in Spanish today, we will know what to think. After all, Mr Borrell is someone who appoints EU representatives in foreign countries. A week ago, we had a new head of the EU Delegation to the Russian Federation, who had been appointed by him. If the head of European diplomacy deep down believes that talking about fighting the “fascist regime” is okay, then I would like to know what kind of instructions and directives were given to his representative in Moscow, and what policies this representative will pursue here. If global media reports are confirmed, we’ll have many questions on how we can continue to engage with these people.