Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov began his speech at the Munich Security Conference today on the necessity of preventing a repeat of the tragedy of world war. His remarks were made on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. His opening remarks follow:
“It is impossible to overlook the symbolism of the date of today’s meeting. 70 years ago one of the most difficult, bloody, and crucial battles of World War II the battle of Stalingrad was over. Hundreds of thousands of my compatriots who gave their lives for this victory on the banks of Volga were not only defending the Motherland, but also fighting for the attainment of universal peace, just as all our allies were doing.
“The diplomacy efforts were also aimed at the purpose of not permitting the tragedy of world war to repeat. They resulted in the creation of the United Nations Organization. However, soon afterwards the cold war drew the dividing lines in Europe, putting off the opportunities for building a system of collective security, which is embodied in the UN Charter, for a long time.
“I speak of this not to provoke another search for the guilty ones. Stirring up the past is not for credible politicians. As the Russian president Vladimir Putin stressed in December letter to the Federal Assembly, Russia is only going ahead, only into the future. Thats why the meaning of our participation in Munich conference we see above all in trying to find a joint approach to building a security community based on authentic strategic partnership. That is the very aim that was put by the leaders of Euro-Atlantic countries in 2010 at OSCE summits in Astana and Russia-NATO Council in Lisbon.
“Certainly, it would be a mistake to state that nothing is done at all for achieving this noble aim. Russia and U.S.A. concluded the START, many-sided cooperation in combating terrorism, narcobusiness, piracy, threats from Afghanistan, is developing. The rejection of cold war era psychology is officially proclaimed. Russia and NATO members declared that they are not seeing each other as enemies.
“However, we are not here to shower praises and compliments upon each other, but to understand the ways that need to be coordinated for the successful solving of the remaining problems. With this in view, we all have to admit that not in word but in deed we are still nowhere near the truly collective Euro-Atlantic architecture, which would be based on solid international legal foundation. Still present is a tendency of building relations on military-political affairs in Europe not on the base of principles proclaimed in OSCE and NRC, but by advancing NATO-centric security structure as a single option.
“We consider such a narrow-bloc approach to be of no avail and difficult to conceive with the help of objective, rational considerations; it is hardly applicable to building politics in today’s global world, when we share the threats. It is time to take a broad and comprehensive look at the whole complex of relations in Euro-Atlantics and try to define the identity of approaches and the remaining discrepancies between us, including with regard to conflict situations in other parts of the world that influence our mutual security.”
Lavrov Exposes EU Support for Bloodshed in Ukraine and Syria
Moscow cannot see why prominent European politicians choose to not denounce the seizure of administration buildings in Ukraine and attacks on police officers, which definitely does not have to do anything with “democracy,” the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said when addressing the Munich Security Conference this morning.
“Why is no one condemning those who seize administration buildings, attack policemen and chant racist and anti-Semitic slogans? Why are prominent European politicians actually encouraging the moves in question, although in their own countries they immediately clamp down on any encroachments on the letter of the law?” Lavrov said. “How would the European Union react if the Russian government openly supported street riots in London, Paris or Hamburg, and sent its ministers to these cities to encourage the protesters?” he asked.
In addition, Lavrov pointed out that in Syria, while some are trying to combat the terrorist organizations al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) through establishing a new association called the Islamic Front, the groups comprising the Islamic Front are similar to those terror groups. At least one was involved, with the al-Nusra Front, in the Adra massacre in Syria, in which dozens of Christians, Druze, and other minorities were slain, he added. Militants migrate between the Islamic Front, al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant depending on who pays more, Russia therefore has great doubts that the Islamic Front could serve as an alternative to terrorists, Lavrov said.
These charges were among the most harshly worded passages in a speech which was otherwise rather reserved and diplomatic, calling on the West to contribute to institutions with Russia, to work constructively with and not against Russia—like the Geneva II meetings on Syria, or the Russian proposal to create cooperation between the Euro-Atlantic part of Europe and the Eurasian part, by 2020.
Another passage with a harsher tone was Lavrov’s response to charges made earlier the same morning by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who accused Russia of having a destructive approach on missile defense and NATO expansion (“partnership” program for post-Soviet era). Lavrov said that being an integral part of the U.S. strategic forces, the missile shield built up in Eastern Europe is offensive, therefore one cannot expect Russia to applaud it. It is worth special mention that Lavrov urged the West, particularly the Europeans, to finally learn the lesson from what caused the outbreak of two world wars, and focus on cooperation rather on confrontation instead.