Friday, July 19

Interview of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva G.M.Gatilov to the Izvestia newspaper

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Question: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was scheduled to visit Geneva on February 28 – March 1, where he was scheduled to attend a high-level session of the UN Human Rights Council and the Conference on Disarmament. It became known that the Russian delegation could not come because of EU sanctions. Were there any attempts on the part of the UN to secure a visit after all?

Answer: Sergey Lavrov’s visit to attend the session of the Human Rights Council and the Conference on Disarmament was planned for a long time. Unfortunately, it really did not take place, because the EU and other European countries closed the airspace for the passage of Russian aircraft. In particular, for the plane on which the Minister was supposed to arrive in Geneva. For our part, we have made attempts to have this decision regarding the Minister overturned. We worked with the UN secretariat because this is a UN event, and it does not fall under bilateral relations with other states, including European ones, in any way. The decision to exclude the Minister is illegal. We have stated this and believe that it is also counterproductive, since it does not allow us to convey the position of the Russian side on important issues that are on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council in particular.

Question: European leaders often talk about diplomacy and negotiations. How does this fit in with the fact that now we literally cannot work on international platforms due to sanctions?

Answer: This is naturally a negative development of the situation, as it complicates diplomatic communication. We have always sought to use multilateral diplomacy, multilateral platforms to find answers to important challenges of our time. But now we’re going to watch. This new development quite naturally raises the question of whether we should take this position into account in our contacts on international platforms and within the relevant UN bodies.

Question: In 2001, the United States was excluded from the Commission on Human Rights by the decision of other member countries. Can something like this happen to the Russian Federation now?

Answer: We are not talking about this yet, although any development of events is possible. In any case, we believe that depriving any State of the right to participate in the work of international organizations and international mechanisms is counterproductive.

Question: Today, the UN Human Rights Council voted to convene an emergency special session on the situation in Ukraine. You stressed in your statement on this occasion that these debates cannot become a platform for an honest depoliticized dialogue. Why?

Answer: The UN Human Rights Council is not authorized to conduct debates on territorial issues. Moreover, we are very disappointed by the fact that almost all the countries that advocated urgent debates on the Ukrainian topic today have remained silent for eight years. When civilians were being killed in the Donbass, and Kiev continued to bomb its own citizens, none of the Western countries and curators of Kiev raised their voices and did not talk about the need to consider the human rights situation. What has now been initiated only increases the confrontation in the UN Security Council and makes the work of the Council even more politicized. All this does not correlate with the desire to improve the human rights situation.

Question: During today’s urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, S.O. Kislitsa, touched upon the legitimacy of the presence of the Russian delegation in the organization. How can this be regarded?

Answer: It is difficult for me to judge how they plan to deprive the legitimacy of the participation of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council and activities in other UN bodies. This, in my opinion, is a question for the public, which has no grounds and no consequences for Russia’s further participation in the activities of international organizations.

Question: Is it still possible for the West to have a dialogue with Russia on the international platforms of the UN, in your opinion? Or are the negotiating resources exhausted?

Answer: We are not closing the door here, we are ready to conduct a dialogue: to state our position and listen to what other states are saying. But this dialogue should be mutually respectful. Now, unfortunately, we do not observe this. If we go back to the Human Rights Council again, then all its activities have become exclusively politicized. Now it is aimed at infringing or somehow punishing those countries whose policies are not liked by others. This is not the task of the Human Rights Council, and it is unacceptable to use this tool for your own political or geopolitical purposes. As for us, we rely on our like-minded people in our activities. We have them, including in the Human Rights Council. There are those countries that share many of our approaches to protecting human rights, improving the efficiency or improving the state’s activities in this area. Together with our partners, we will continue to categorically object to the approaches that groups of Western so-called democracies are trying to impose. We know perfectly well what is behind this. We know how they acted in certain situations. For example, in Yugoslavia, as well as in Libya and Iraq.

Question: Which countries can be counted among our like-minded people? Are we talking about the States that abstained or opposed the convening of an urgent discussion on the situation in Ukraine?

Answer: We can say that India and China especially share our approaches on human rights issues. In this regard, we have a lot in common. As for their vote, it is only about holding a debate. We will see what position they will express during their speeches. And I would really like to hope that their position on the anti-Russian resolution that Ukraine has prepared will be principled and solidary with us.

Question: Earlier it was reported in the media that Switzerland has started work on organizing a meeting of representatives of Russia and Ukraine in Geneva. In your opinion, are negotiations in this format possible in the current situation?

Answer: Switzerland has always been a platform for all kinds of international negotiations and meetings. As we know, negotiations are now being conducted in a completely different place. However, Switzerland’s desire to position itself as a center of international politics is well known. In certain situations, it worked, and it worked well. Any constructive proposals have the right to exist. Another thing is how much these proposals will remain in force at one time or another.



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