Question: We pursue a common foreign policy. We seem to be already looking in the same direction. How much further do we need to go in this regard?
Sergey Lavrov: I think our prospects for further coordination of our foreign policies are good. Yesterday’s presidential meeting in Moscow and their principled agreement on union programmes and key spheres of activity was formalised today at a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers. The prime ministers signed the corresponding document. It will get finally approved at a meeting of the Supreme State Council, which the presidents plan to hold soon, most likely in October. This is critical for our joint actions if we want to pursue a coordinated foreign policy. We cooperate closely on almost all, without exception, items of the international agenda, be it at the UN, the OSCE or other organisations, including the CSTO, the EAEU and the CIS. We will thus have an additional foundation going forward.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, the economy drives effective policy on the international arena. The stronger the economies of Belarus, Russia and the Union State, the more confident our actions on the international arena will be.
We have agreed with Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei to hold a joint collegium, which is a regular annual event, in November. In 2021, it will take place in Moscow. The first item on the agenda will include the goals arising from our foreign policy coordination stemming from the agreements on forming union programmes as part of the main guidelines for the implementation of the Union Treaty over the next three years.
Very shortly, we will come up with additional items for the agenda to be discussed during a meeting of our Foreign Ministry and the Belarusian Foreign Ministry’s collegium in the context of our actions at the UN and in promoting common approaches to disarmament and arms control.
We have ambitious plans, and we will put even more confidence in implementing them and will build on today’s developments and what will take place at the Supreme State Council as well.
Question: Both Russia and Belarus often say that sanctions are not an option for us. Is there a common counter-sanction policy?
Sergey Lavrov: Everything that has been done today on behalf of the presidents is the best response to the sanctions policy. Assuming that someone will just give up and give us a break is an exercise in futility. We are well aware of unreliability of our Western partners and their ability to grab the sanctions bludgeon at any given moment and for any reason. We should rely on ourselves, which is exactly what we will do following today’s meeting. However, we will leave the door open to anyone who is willing to cooperate based on equality and a balance of interests and is not striving to obtain unilateral advantages.