Apr 27, 2022

UN chief Guterres holds press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov 4/26/22 Transcript

UN chief Guterres holds press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov 4/26/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsRussiaUN chief Guterres holds press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov 4/26/22 Transcript

UN chief Guterres holds press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov 4/26/22. Read the transcript here.


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Speaker 1: (00:00)
We’re going to go across to Moscow now where we have the Russian Foreign Minister and António Guterres speaking [crosstalk 00:00:06].

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (00:06)
[crosstalk 00:00:06] on the situation on European continent in Ukraine, in the popular Republic of Donetsk. I’d like to come back to the UN statutes, by laws. I told our friend, Secretary General Guterres, how we see things. This is a situation which is getting worse by and by. And then there was a decisive thing that happened. That was when our American colleagues and their allies decided to not know any limits to broaden this war, and to strengthen this unipolar war, this unipolar world.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (00:57)
Now, we believe that all of this was made to counter Russia, and for many years, with that goal in mind, Ukraine was used as a place for weapons. As a place to contain Russia. And so this stimulated the activities of the Ukranian government that would deny anything Russian, that would deny the culture and the very language of Russia. And in the law, there were always new laws that were acted upon to confront Nazi theory and Nazi practices. The Secretary General knows well, decisions made by President Putin, who clearly said what the reasons were for this special military operation in Ukraine.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (02:07)
These are the reasons. First, we set out to protect civilian populations. We are currently in contact with our colleagues in the UN and the International Red Cross. We leave no stone unturned to help those populations to decrease the suffering. UN colleagues, after the contacts with the Secretary General, with our Ministry of Defense, which took place about two months ago, almost two months ago, we agreed to set up a working group here in Moscow.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (02:50)
And with Ministry of Defense, and in collaboration with Ministry of Defense, UN representatives coordinate humanitarian aid. The UN directorate on humanitarian issues sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and so that aid, every day, is sent out to citizens in the Lugansk and Donetsk areas.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (03:28)
The Russian Ministry of Defense and the Ministry for Emergency Issues and other ministries, keep on working towards that goal. Today we discussed measures to strengthen our cooperation. The cooperation with the UN departments. And we are going to keep up this work as it is required by developments on the ground. Now, obviously, we also mentioned the future of UN and the attempts by Western colleagues who try and solve those issues outside of the UN. All kind of appeals were sent out to set up partnerships. They said this is an elitist club. France and Germany, for instance, were mentioned and the union of the multilateralists. This is a UN meeting. It’s about, for instance, last year, the U.S. set up a democracy summit and decided who would take part. And we told our colleagues today that this is a message, a dangerous message for the UN, because it is an attempt to try and change the UN statutes.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (05:14)
The UN were created on the basis of sovereignty and independence of states. And once again, we wanted to remind our colleagues of that, and we’ll keep doing that. We’ll keep telling them about that. We don’t want U. S. or other capitals to do any differently. I would like to thank very gratefully, the Secretary General, who took up this initiative to have of these contacts.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (05:45)
We accepted those contacts, and we think we should keep up this regular dialogue to coordinate our positions. In spite of all the difficulties that we come across in world affairs, in spite of all that, it is important. It is critical to keep up those sincere discussions. We have to go back to basics. The statutes, the bylaws of the UN. It is on that basis that we should build up a development path on the basis of multilateralism. It is a key concern today. Once again, I would like to underline that the Secretary General was quite willing to discuss on this basis. Thank you.

António Guterres: (06:36)
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, as Secretary General of the United Nations, I came to Moscow as a messenger of peace.

António Guterres: (06:42)
My objective and my agenda is strictly linked to save lives and to reduce suffering. I had a very frank discussion with the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and it is clear that there are two different positions on what is happening in Ukraine.

António Guterres: (07:04)
According to the Russian Federation, what is taking place is a special military operation with the objectives that were announced. According to the UN, in line with resolutions passed by the general assembly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of its territorial integrity and against the charter of United Nations.

António Guterres: (07:26)
But it is my deep conviction that the sooner we end this war, the better, for the people of Ukraine, for the people of the Russian Federation, and those far beyond. United Nations has repeatedly called for cease fires to protect civilians and to facilitate a political dialogue to reach a solution. So far that has not been possible.

António Guterres: (07:52)
Today across the Donbas, a violent battle is underway with tremendous deaths and destruction. Many civilians are being killed and hundreds of thousands of people are in life threatening conditions, trapped by the conflict. I’m concerned about repeated reports of violations of international, military, and human rights law, and possible war crimes, and they require independent investigation for effective accountability.

António Guterres: (08:23)
And we urgently need humanitarian corridors that are truly safe and effective, and that are respected by all to evacuate civilians and deliver much needed assistance. To that end, I have proposed the establishment of a humanitarian contact group bringing together the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the United Nations to look for opportunities for the opening of safe corridors, with local cessation of hostilities, and to guarantee that they are actually effective. Simultaneously, we recognize that we face a crisis within a crisis in Mariupol’. Thousands of civilians are in dire need of lifesaving humanitarian assistant, and many of evacuation. The United Nations is ready to fully mobilize its human and logistical resources to help save lives in Mariupol’. My proposal is for a coordinated work of United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Ukraine and Russian Federation forces, to enable the safe evacuation of those civilians who want to leave, both inside the Azovstal plant and in the city, in any direction they choose, and to deliver the humanitarian aid required.

António Guterres: (09:51)
And this is not just about what is happening in Ukraine as we are seeing shockwaves around the world. The dramatic acceleration of the increase of the prices for food and energy, that was already taking place in the last year, are causing enormous suffering to hundreds of millions of the most vulnerable people worldwide. And these comes on top of the shock of the continued COVID-19 pandemic, and even access to resources for recovery that particularly penalize developing countries around the world.

António Guterres: (10:29)
And so the sooner peace is established, the better for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and for the world. And it’s very important, even in these moments of difficulty, to keep alive the values of multilateralism. We need a world that is multi-polar, with multilateral institutions, and those multilateral institutions must abide by the UN charter-

Antonio Guterres: (11:03)
Federal institutions must abide by the UN charter and by international law. Abiding by the UN charter and by international law, recognizing full equality among states, they, hopefully, will be an instrument that will allow us, once again, to come together as humankind and address the dramatic challenges we face, from climate change to epidemics and to many others, and in which the only war we should have would be a war of those that put the planet at risk.

Geeta Mohan: (11:50)
Good afternoon. I am Geeta Mohan from India Today. I have a question each from both the leadership, beginning with the United Nations Secretary General, sir. Mr. Guterres, sir, there are allegations and counter allegations regarding genocide, war crimes, human shields, as also reports of chemical weapons and biological weapons being used. You spoke about contact group and humanitarian corridors. You also spoke about investigations.

Geeta Mohan: (12:20)
Will the United Nations look at dependent investigations, creating a team, an investigating team, to look into the facts on the ground? And my question to the foreign minister. Sir, both sides, whether it’s the United Nations or the international community, are looking at negotiated settlement and cease fire. Should Russia look at a negotiated settlement? Is there a country or an organization that could act as a mediator? Who would Russia consider as a mediating agency? Thank you.

Antonio Guterres: (12:58)
Well, the UN Secretariat has not the power to do investigation of that kind. We have the international criminal court. We have the different mechanisms that exist in the human rights system, namely, commissions of inquiry. It is not my intention to promote an investigation myself. I have not the authority for it, but I think it’s very important to have independent investigations in order to have full credibility and full accountability.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (13:40)
As regards your question, I could tell you about the position of various international players. Of course, it should all be founded on the UN charter and on its principles, the sovereignty of nations, in particular. The Secretary General mentioned the UN resolution that condemned Russia. And it said that what is going on in Ukraine is an invasion. It is an attempt… an infringement of sovereignty and territorial integrity. And this resolution was voted on.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (14:27)
But various countries told us that they were forced, that they were pressured in corridors. And the US pressured them on the basis of their accounts in the US or on the basis of their children who study in the US. And in spite of those pressures, there was no unanimity during the adoption of this resolution. Several dozens of countries refused to agree.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (15:02)
So I understand that the UN should base itself… that we should be based on UN resolution, but we should also keep in mind resolutions by the security council, especially when the 15 members of the security council have voted unanimously on a resolution. In February, 2015, there was a unanimously adopted resolution, and it related to the Minsk agreements and the implementation and the measures to take in order to implement those Minsk agreements. And all of that was voted upon. And it related to the Donetsk and Luhansk republics.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (15:50)
The Ukrainian president person could then… Mr. Zelensky, the prime minister, signed off on those Minsk agreements. And those agreements should have been implemented regarding the status of those republics, in order to bring about changes in the constitution. And we should still maintain the territorial integrity of Ukraine, obviously. So in agreement with Donetsk and Luhansk, elections had to be set up. From what I remember, the UN Secretariat did not respond to the direct sabotage of those Minsk agreements by Kyiv. There is a security council resolution standing, and, as part of that, the UN did not respond. We mentioned that today.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (16:44)
I’ll be honest. We’ve known each other for a long time, and we have excellent relations, friendly relations, but we cannot keep on postponing, again and again, those resolutions. At this stage of international relations, now is the time to implement those resolutions. We will accept for someone to unilaterally, with whoever allies he may have, decide on what the world can do. Either we do that or we behave on the basis of the UN charter. This is the state of play. Now, you should ask those who ignore the UN charter. You should ask them to be accountable.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (17:39)
Now, speaking of culture and civilization, this is what we are based on. What is sacred is the UN charter. It is the greatest of all documents from times immemorial. And the UN charter should be a catalyst for a dialogue, a strong and sincere dialogue, without trying to use force to solve problems, including financial strength or economic strength that we find in the West. Western colleagues try to set up a parallel system, which goes against the law.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (18:29)
Now, as regards decisions, that is a negotiated solution. Well, clearly, we would like President Zelensky to support that. See how they behaved, how Zelensky and his delegation behaved. First, they received our new proposals one week ago. Then they said, “No, we didn’t receive them.” It’s very sad to that flip flopping. Actually, we don’t believe that they are interested by those talks.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (19:08)
In the West, there are Individuals who don’t want Russia to win, who want to defeat Russia. And those individuals keep on providing weapons to Ukraine. If this goes on, negotiations won’t get anywhere, but, of course, we are willing to pursue those discussions. And we are in favor of humanitarian solutions. Humanitarian corridors have been… We try to set them up, but they’ve been negated by the Ukrainian side, especially by the Azov regiment, using Nazi symbols, Waffen SS symbols. And I believe that Mr. Zelensky, in an interview with CN, said, “We have many of those battalions, and they are just the way they are.” That’s what he said exactly, but it was cut off from the interview. I think they were ashamed to broadcast such stuff on Western media because this is what Zelensky actually believes. It is shameful, of course, to admit that.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (20:29)
So we are in favor of discussions. If there are any interesting ideas, we are willing to listen to them. As regards mediation, in previous stages, Ukrainians didn’t talk to us. We met them three times, in Belorussian… Belarus and then in Turkey. So we are grateful to those parties who enabled those discussions. However, for the time being, I think it is still early days to speak of a mediator. We are still awaiting an answer to our latest proposal, a common document that we conveyed almost 10 days ago. And President Zelensky, apparently, didn’t know about that. He didn’t know about our proposal.

Antonio Guterres: (21:24)
I’d like to say that the Secretariat entirely respects and abides by all resolutions of the general assembly and of the security council. And today, if I regret something, it is that the UN was not allowed to be part of the Normandy format to follow the Minsk agreement and to be able to form a very clear-cut opinion about the failure of the Minsk agreement.

Antonio Guterres: (21:55)
On the other hand, I would like to say that I understand that the Russian Federation has many grievances.

Antonio Guterres: (22:03)
… understand that the Russian Federation has many grievances. But the UN Charter foresees a large number of mechanisms in which grievances can be addressed. And namely with recourse to the International Court of Justice or other mechanisms if all the other ones foreseen in the Charter fail.

Antonio Guterres: (22:26)
But there is one thing that is true and obvious and that no arguments can change. We have not Ukrainian troops in the territory of the Russian federation, but we have Russian troops in the territory of the Ukrainian federation.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (22:49)
This is true I can confirm that.

Speaker 2: (22:56)
Hello. [inaudible 00:23:01]. I have two questions to Mr Lavrov, today there will be a vote on the resolution on voting rights. Whenever there is a veto opposed by one of the five permanent members, there’s always this resolution coming back and being put at the table. Where do you stand regarding that initiative that would ban any veto after discussion and a vote within the General Assembly? And then I have a question to the General Secretary, how do you see that reform on banning voting rights?

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (23:55)
As regards the current resolution that was submitted to the General Assembly, it will have absolutely no impact on discussions taking place regarding the reforms of the Security Council and the veto right. The veto right will not be banned because it is one of the pillars of the UN. And without a veto right, the UN will be sent adrift because the members of the Security Council based their action on the consensus principle. And they try and steer clear of strong differences.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (24:55)
Having said this, the world is changing. And the US is striving to set up a unipolar world forever. But not everyone is in agreement. And we said on several occasions that the Security Council must put a stop to one camp being over represented. There are six Western countries among those 15 countries. We would like to see other countries from other regions, from Africa, from Asia. We directly mentioned to our partners, the opportunity to have Brazil or to have candidates from Africa.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (25:46)
So speaking of that draft resolution that we provide for discussion within the General Assembly after the veto. This is totally different. This is about democratizing decision making. And we are quite willing to join that consensus if there is a consensus.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (26:11)
It is important to have a consensus principle. Actually Sometimes there is a minority agreeing on a decision, and then there are other votes because of different interests involved. Let me go one step further.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (26:34)
The Security Council occasionally cannot decide, not because of the veto but because there is an abstention by six or seven countries. So this is another situation where we see strong differences within the Security Council. And I believe that the General Assembly should also mull over the situation. I believe it is quite wholesome to discuss this. If a country uses his veto right, it is probably because he has reasons, he has good reasons. And if it is about Russia, I think we can justify our positions within the Security Council.

Antonio Guterres: (27:23)
If I am able to interpret those that so many years ago created the Charter. I believe the reason of the veto was to avoid the situation in which a confrontation among the group of permanent members might lead to another global war. And so the veto was a kind of an element introduced to avoid this kind of danger.

Antonio Guterres: (27:57)
It is also true that as time went by, the veto has probably been used too many times. As in many circumstances, it’s used without vital interests of a country existing. And so I’m very much in favor of a moderate use of the veto, having no illusions about the possibility of changing it. I don’t think that it will be possible to have a majority, a two thirds majority in General Assembly with the five members agreeing on changing that.

Antonio Guterres: (28:33)
But I also believe it’s important to enlarge the Security Council and to have a more equitable representation, particularly the country like Africa. Africa is a double victim of colonialism. First of all, because it suffered colonialism itself. And second, because many of the countries only gained independence when the international institutions had already been created. So Africa is underrepresented in decision making processes in most of the multilateral institutions. And so I do believe that a stronger representation of developing countries in many areas from the Bretton Woods institutions to the Security Council would be an important reform.

Speaker 3: (29:28)
Chinese television. I would like to ask several questions to Minister Lavrov. How did Russia respond to the Ukrainian proposal to have a negotiating meeting in Mariupol? Second question, what steps were taken by Russia regarding an increase in weapons deliveries from the US?

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (29:58)
I heard that proposal, a fairly dramatic proposal by the Ukrainians. The team that had discussions with our representatives in Belorussia or elsewhere, that was about the setting up a meeting near to the [inaudible 00:30:21] hospital. That was a way for Ukrainians to stage their action. So they wanted to stage some action to appeal through our emotions. If they wanted to have negotiations, they should respond to the proposal that we sent 10 days ago. Mr. Zelensky apparently hasn’t heard about that proposal.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (30:51)
As regards weapon deliveries in Kyiv, not just from the US, but from other countries, European countries are being forced by the US to send weapons And the US is carrying out those deliveries as well. We said that on several occasions. As soon as those weapons are on the Ukrainian soil, they become legitimate targets within our special military operation. Our troops protect and defend the rights of people who were bombed for eight years.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (31:32)
And all of those who were outside of this know that, for instance, France and Germany, who were among the co-authors of the Minsk Agreement, for so many years didn’t say anything while there was so much repression of the populations in Donbas, and Russian speakers, and also in the rest of Ukraine. You can see for yourself what was done against the Russian language. There were bans, some media banned the Russian language. Or banned Russian interests.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (32:25)
And then there was another decision made to ban the Russian language in every day life. And then Nazi ideology was used. So all of the countries involved in the Minsk framework, none of them said anything. And then even at that time, there were weapons that were delivered to Ukraine and they were dangerous. For instance, military bases on the Azov Sea and the British ships in the Azov Sea …

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (33:03)
… British ships in the Azov Sea, but we felt no sympathy from any countries in the world. When we proposed, we made a last ditch attempt for Africans and for NATO to conduct negotiations, not to broaden those military and political bases. So now the time has come for us to liquidate the consequences of those actions by the west, that fly in the face of the principle of not broadening the conflict.

Speaker 4: (33:47)
As a question from Sputnik. Good afternoon, Mr. Lavrov. Good afternoon, Mr. Guterres. I have a question for both of you. Mr. Lavrov, the first diplomat of the Taliban government was accredited recently. Is there a drift towards recognizing the Taliban government in Kabul? Is Russia willing to work with the Afghan forces to set up the government that be an inclusive government as said the Iranian authority. Mr. Guterres, what do you think of the illegal appropriation of Russian properties in the US? And also, when Russian diplomats did not receive visas to participate in various UN meetings. What does the US Secretariat do to urge the US to step up to the plate and to be responsible in terms of its international agreements as regards Afghanistan?

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (35:15)
You urged for properties, Afghan properties, to be liberated. As regards Afghan diplomats, we received in Moscow a diplomat that was sent by the Taliban government, but this is not an official recognition of the Taliban government. And we support the various neighboring countries including China, that participated with Pakistan in a regional meeting. And we also work on the basis of recognizing realities on the ground. We have contacts between our representatives and Taliban representatives as regards economic operation, as regards the Russian presence in Afghanistan. There’s a number of companies that are working there. Over 20 years when the NATO coalition was in Afghanistan, there was not a single that was set up in Afghanistan. And you know what the end war was like. We would like to fully recognize the Afghan government, but that would be conditional on setting up and an inclusive government, and especially as regards religion, because they have ethnic differences that for the time being, they are all Taliban. It’s an all Taliban government. Now the Taliban government has said that those were its goals. And we work with political forces present in Afghanistan, in Kabul, President Kadsai. And they want a dialogue with the Taliban as well, and we want to promote that kind of contact and dialogue to start this road on this dialogue.

Antonio Guterres: (37:44)
Starting by Afghanistan, we have decided since the very beginning, to engage actively with the Taliban, and we have a passive humanitarian operation in Afghanistan. But we recognize that humanitarian aid is not enough. In the absence of cash, in the absence of liquidity in the economy in Afghanistan, the collapse of the economy can have devastating consequences for the people of Afghanistan. So we have been claiming that the international community needs to create the conditions for cash to be injected in the Afghan economy. We have done it ourselves. The UN is bringing by plane bank notes to Afghanistan. We already did about 500 million US dollars. We have been pushing the World Bank in order for the World Bank to disburse amounts that are foreseen in relation to Afghanistan. And we are working together with the Central Bank and the American Treasury to remove the obstacles that still exist in relation to the needs to and freeze the money that is available. And we hope that this will be true for all the countries that have these assets frozen.

Antonio Guterres: (39:13)
We believe naturally that we need to do everything for the good of the people in Afghanistan, but we are also engaging with the Taliban very seriously in relation to the inclusivity of the government and inclusivity between men and women, but also inclusivity in order for Uzbeks, Tajiks, Asaras, as it was said, to be fully included in the political process in Afghanistan. On the need for Afghanistan not to be a base for any kind of terrorist activities outside its territory and of course also to be able to defeat terrorism inside the territory. And on the need to respect a number of fundamental rights.

Antonio Guterres: (39:59)
And here there are two questions of great concern to me. One is the possibility of girls to be in school, especially in secondary school and in the university. There was a negative decision recently. I hope it would be overcome quickly. And the second, the right of women to work and to exercise their professions in the country, as it is happening to the UN staff, female UN staff that is indeed allowed to work at the present moment.

Antonio Guterres: (40:32)
On the other hand, we believe that it is very important that all member states, including the Russian Federation, have a normal treatment of their visa requirements. It is essential to have the full participation of all countries into UN procedures. And we will be keeping a very strong position with host country in order to guarantee that we move swiftly in that direction.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (41:07)
So there were a few questions and all of us answered those questions. The two of us answer those questions because we are diplomats.

Antonio Guterres: (41:16)
Thank you very much. Good afternoon.

Annette: (41:40)
Hello and welcome back to the France 24 newsroom. I’m Annette Gangham. And of course we’ve been listening there to their press conference in Moscow between UN Secretary General and Antonio Guterres and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Speaking earlier alongside the Foreign Minister, Antonio Guterres saying conditions for a ceasefire in Ukraine should be created as soon as possible. He also said there was a need for an independent inquiry into war crimes and said that a military contact group would be set up and it would include representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the UN. He also went on to talk about the urgent need for human humanitarian corridors to be established out of that besieged port city of Mariopol. Let’s take listen to what the two men had to say earlier.

Antonio Guterres: (42:29)
And we urgently need humanitarian corridors that are truly safe and effective and that are respected by all to evacuate civilians and deliver much needed assistance. To that end, I have proposed the establishment of a humanitarian contact group bringing together the Russian Federation, Ukraine and United Nations.

Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov: (42:57)
Quite naturally, the UN Secretary General knows full well of those decisions that were declared by President Putin about the reasons and the targets, the goals of the operation that is conducted by our military with the [foreign language 00:43:16] on the territory of the Ukraine. These goals are first and foremost to protect the civilian population. And here we have an interest of working together with our UN colleagues together with colleagues from the international Red Cross committee as for additional efforts to alleviate the suffering and the situation for the civilian population.

Annette: (43:44)
And that’s it for this edition.

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