Remarks to the press by Ambassador V.Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations
Q: What’s with press statement on Yemen?
V.Churkin: The British draft was extremely weak and it was not up for the occasion. Some very serious thinking needs to be done about the situation in Yemen.
Q: Will there be a meeting?
V.Churkin: We are not calling for it. If somebody is going to call for it, it will be convened. The situation is extremely grave and this kind of wishy-washy statement will not do anything.
Q: Did you offer amendments? Stronger language?
V.Churkin: No. We realized that it was hopeless so we just said it was too vague and general and they didn’t do anything out of that. We felt that it was really pointless to engage in some kind of discussion about the press statement. It is a matter in which a press statement would not do much anyway. We need to think very seriously about what could be done about the situation. At this point I don’t think there is any clear understanding where things will go. In fact I heard today that Ismail Ahmed (UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Yemen) postponed his appearance in the Security Council. It was supposed to take place on October 20th, now it may take place on October 31st. It is a very difficult and serious stalemate. Even worse than a stalemate, because it is a stalemate where fighting is increasing – this is the latest I heard after the bombing of the mourning procession in Sana'a. So it is an extremely grave situation.
Q: Ambassador, can you just tell us about the demarche you made on the comments of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights?
V.Churkin: I call it “suck-it-out-of-the-finger journalism”.
Q: But did you complain or not?
V.Churkin: I did. This is what diplomats do - they complain. There is no story. I have not read the statement of the High Commissioner, my good friend, I got instructions from Moscow. He was criticizing some government officials in Europe, talking as if he were not just High Commissioner for Human Rights but sitting above it all making a judgment. And I go to the Secretary-General quite often and we have private meetings. In one of those private meetings I mentioned this problem and also we did the same thing directly with the High Commissioner in Geneva. It is not that we are talking behind his back. That was it. Whether Trump was mentioned in his statement or not I have no idea. Because I was referring to other politicians. I wasn’t aware.
Q: Did you refer to Trump though?
V.Churkin: No. I wasn’t aware that he was even mentioned [in the statement]. If it were Trump then the United States should have complained because it would have meant that he is interfering in their domestic presidential campaign. But I am not working for the United States, I am working for the Russian Federation so why should I complain when somebody is trying to interfere with the US presidential campaign?
Q: Would you take issue with? What would your comment say?
V.Churkin: He should stick to human rights. He should not be criticizing foreign heads of state and governments for their policies. This is not his business. He should be more focused on his specific responsibilities.
Q: So you did not specifically mention Trump though when you complained?
V.Churkin: No, I had no idea that he was even mentioned in the statement. I haven’t even read the statement. I just got one paragraph from my capital saying if you see the Secretary-General mention among other things that Prince Zeid went too far once again in his public remarks.