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Question: I have a feeling that French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech before the French diplomats was written in your secretariat − the ideas that Europe can do without the US and that relations need to be built with Russia and Turkey.
Sergey Lavrov: To be honest, I cannot imagine French President Emmanuel Macron relying on anything but his own convictions in foreign policy while instructing French diplomats working abroad.
Question: So these ideas are actually their own?
Sergey Lavrov: I think they have been brewing for quite some time now. And this is due not only to the 2016 change of administration in the United States.
In general, I think the way the US acts on the international stage actually makes everyone rethink things. Nobody wants to be at loggerheads with the US; on the contrary – they would rather have normal, constructive and good relations. Just as, no self-respecting country can tolerate being dictated to and told what to do, in a take-no-dissent way dismissing any agreements and understandings that have developed over many decades in international relations.
Question: We are currently in the negotiation room informally referred to as Molotov’s room, probably because Vyacheslav Molotov was the first to hold talks here when it was built. Your office is further down the corridor. Suppose you come in, and they tell you, Mr Lavrov, Mr Pompeo is calling. Would you feel like talking with the US Secretary of State after another series of sanctions this week?
Sergey Lavrov: It isn’t about that. It is not about what I feel like and what I like or dislike. It is our job. We must work with all our counterparts, no matter what problems arise in the relations. We are not one of those countries that dig in their heels – you said something wrong about us, we’ll stop talking. This is not our way of doing things. We do assess the actions of our partners when we do not agree with them. But we never slam the door in their faces. There is no doubt that in the United States there are many politicians, including the current officials and the staff of the administration, who are fully aware of the abnormality of the current situation, when every move needs to be checked for potential reactions from the Russophobes. I believe this is just a sad page in America’s history.
Question: The Russian Embassy in Washington recently said that America is close to the point of no return in its interaction with Moscow, in particular after introducing the latest package of sanctions. Could such a situation really arise when you enter your office, you are told that the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is calling, and you do not even want to talk, or there is simply nothing to talk about?
Sergey Lavrov: Wanting or not wanting is not the concept we operate. The point of no return is also a figure of speech, because there is always a “return.” It is not the first time that we emphasise that the constant escalation of sanctions pressure without any fact presented in support of such sanctions is counterproductive and drives the relations into a deadlock. But there is a way out even from a deadlock. As soon as our partners are ready to talk on the basis of mutual respect and consideration of interests, we are always open to a dialogue.
Building of the Russian Embassy in Kingston