Home » Press » International News » Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the State of Eritrea Osman Saleh, Sochi, March 22, 2023

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the State of Eritrea Osman Saleh, Sochi, March 22, 2023

Ladies and gentlemen,

I had very substantive talks with Foreign Minister of Eritrea Osman Saleh.

I’m pleased to note that the bilateral political dialogue has become more stable. This is the second meeting with my counterpart since earlier this year. In January, a Russian delegation made a useful visit to Asmara to talk with President Isaias Afwerki and Minister Osman Saleh.

Today, we continued to discuss the specific issues that we discussed during the January visit. We agreed that we are indeed making progress in identifying the best forms of partnership in existing circumstances, when the importance of upholding international law and preventing diktat and hegemony in international affairs has become particularly clear all over the world, including Africa.

We specified further steps to promote the traditionally friendly Russia-Eritrea relationship and reaffirmed our mutual commitment to further strengthen our interaction. We paid special attention to promoting cooperation in order to fully unlock the significant economic potential.

We are interested in expanding the number of promising joint projects in transport infrastructure and agricultural production, as well as exploration and mining. We outlined the Russian companies’ interest in accessing the Eritrean market. Our Eritrean friends promised to come up with a proposal regarding areas of mutual interest where the Russian private sector could get involved. We agreed to help representatives of our countries’ respective business circles establish direct contacts.

We highlighted cooperation in training professional staff at Russian higher education institutions. We reaffirmed our willingness to increase state scholarship quotas allocated to Eritrea from the federal budget. We will take into account our Eritrean friends’ wishes regarding specialties that their students would like to master. In turn, my counterpart and friend made clear that training is a priority in Eritrea’s relations with the Russian Federation. Our estimates and plans overlap in this regard as well.

We also covered cooperation in the military and defence sphere and security in general. It is an important aspect of our interaction, given the situation in the Horn of Africa and ongoing tensions between the countries in that region. In its bilateral relations with the countries in question and as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia is promoting constructive approaches aimed at pooling efforts and overcoming differences by striking a balance of interests. We are using these constructive approaches in stark contrast to some Western countries’ attempts to preserve instability and to constantly look for irritants in order to prevent the countries of the region from uniting on a positive and constructive foundation.

We discussed preparations for the second Russia-Africa summit to be held in St Petersburg in late July.

We have analysed regional and international issues as they apply to Africa. We share a commitment to continue in-depth cooperation on international affairs and to coordinate our actions at the UN. We share a position in defence of international law as well. At the UN, Russia and Eritrea are part of the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations that was created a couple of years ago. This group has earned a good reputation, enjoys high standing and unites 20 countries. Greater numbers of other countries are interested in joining this group.

We expressed gratitude to our Eritrean friends for their consistent and principled position regarding the geopolitical processes launched by the West under the pretext and the cover provided by the Ukraine crisis. Our friends have adopted a principled approach. They know what is going on and come up with corresponding assessments. This goes to show time and time again that we stand for justice, the UN Charter principles and international law, including the principle stating the importance of complying with Security Council resolutions.

You are aware that the special military operation was provoked by Ukraine and the West’s outright refusal to comply with the UN Security Council resolution that approved the Minsk agreements. Thereby, the West violated its obligations under the UN Charter and left us no choice but to stand up for the Russian-speaking people of eastern Ukraine who were subjected to unacceptable discrimination and were stripped of their basic rights by the Nazi Kiev regime.

We will continue to support each other with regard to other fundamental items on the agenda of the international community, including as part of the UN activities on human rights issues, which the West is constantly trying to politicise and to use human rights issues as a pretext to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign countries.

We are promoting joint approaches that reflect the actual state of affairs in energy and food security around the world. We are in favour of these issues being considered with account taken of the interests of all countries, rather than in line with the logic that the United States and its allies are trying to impose on us which is aimed at leaving the door open to colonial methods of interaction with African countries, among others.

We covered the situation in the Horn of Africa, Sudan and Somalia. We noted the positive trend towards stabilisation in northern Ethiopia. Russia’s position is well known. We strongly support Africans determining their approaches to resolving African problems themselves, without external interference. The international community should provide moral, political and financial assistance to help implement the African countries’ decisions to resolve conflicts plaguing that continent.

Speaking of the UN, we cannot elide the topic of UN reform, in particular reforming of the Security Council. Our position here remains unchanged. We see the blatant, glaring underrepresentation of developing countries at the UN Security Council. We support reforming this central UN body solely by making additional seats available to the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

I thank my colleague for a useful and productive meeting that will help advance our practical cooperation across all areas.

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