Press-Conference by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia on the occasion of the Russian Presidency in the UN Security Council in September
A.: Good afternoon once again.
It is a pleasure to see you all here on the first day of the Russian Presidency in the Security Council which luckily coincides with the best week in the UN, the best month in the UN and the High-level week as well. Before we proceed with the major topic of our briefing, let me mention that these days the world is commemorating the beginning of one of the most tragic pages in the global history.
80 years ago, the Hitler-led Third Reich waged World War II that inflicted gravest wounds on all nations of Europe, the USSR and millions of people throughout the globe.
The people of the world had upper hand in that war against the absolute evil. However, it was the peoples of the USSR who took the main blow of Nazism upon themselves, who offered heroic resistance, went through immense ordeals and in doing so defined the outcome of the war, defeated the enemy and brought liberation to other nations.
It appears obvious that the lessons of World War II should not be subject to politicization. No matter what assessment we give to the political and diplomatic upheaval of the turn of the 40es of the previous century, the historic period that followed drew a distinct line between the good and the evil. This is the anti-Hitler coalition and the Axis Powers. And this borderline was later enshrined in the UN Charter and decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal.
The end of World War II is closely and inseparably linked to the founding of the United Nations that became the centerpiece of the new system of international relations and collective security. The very term “United Nations” was born during the war – this was how members of the anti-Hitler coalition called themselves.
The UN managed to save the world from another global disaster; it gave the countries a platform and tools for equal dialogue on most controversial issues, and for settlement of disputes. Our duty is to tackle these achievements with care and responsibility. Too high a price was paid, too much is at stake for the future generations to come.
World War II and related issues was the topic of the press-briefing that our First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy held for UN journalists on 30 August. Full text of the session is available at the official website of the Russian Mission to the United Nations. On 20 August Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergei Lavrov participated at the opening of the historical and documentary exhibition, “Year 1939: The Outbreak of World War II”. Full text of his opening speech is also available at the website of the Foreign Ministry.
Now allow me to get back to the programme of work of the Council and to briefly announce to you what we are planning for the month, week by week.
The programme of work was adopted earlier today at 11.30 by the Security Council.
This week we will have meetings just on September 4, tomorrow, when we will hold a briefing and consultations on Libya and Libyan sanctions, and we will be briefed by SRSG Ghassan Salamé via VTC as well as by the Chair of the 1970 Committee Ambassador Jürgen Schulz of Germany. On the same day in the afternoon we will have consultations on Syria chemical weapons with High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu as a briefer.
During the second week of our Presidency we will start our meetings on September 9, with annual debate on UN peacekeeping operations, with USG Jean-Pierre Lacroix as a briefer in accordance with the requirements of resolution 2378.
For the next day, September 10, debate on UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) is scheduled. Here we plan to proceed as per established practice with the participants. In addition to SRSG Tadamichi Yamamoto and Chair of the 1988 Committee Ambassador Dian Djani of Indonesia we will have UNODC Executive Director Yuri Fedotov via VTC. UNAMA mandate expires on September 17, so we are tentatively scheduling its extension for September 16.
In the afternoon of September 10 we will have a briefing and consultations on Guinea-Bissau with ASG Bintou Keita to present the SG report. Adoption of a resolution extending mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya is scheduled for the morning session of September 12.
On September 16, which starts the 3rd week, we will have the morning session, as I already mentioned, with the adoption of UNAMA resolution, then we will proceed with a briefing and consultations on Yemen, and hope we will confirm Special Envoy Martin Griffiths as a briefer with Ursula Mueller of OCHA as a second briefer on humanitarian issues.
September 17 is reserved for the opening of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
On September 18, in the morning we will discuss the situation in South Sudan during the briefing and consultations with SRSG David Shearer as a briefer.
We schedule the discussion on political process and humanitarian situation in Syria for September 19. SRSG Geir Pedersen is not confirmed yet, but hopefully he will be available, which is really important right after Astana Format Summit in Istanbul scheduled for September 16. And again ASG Ursula Mueller of OCHA will be a briefer on humanitarian matters.
We plan to finish what is due in accordance with the Council’s regular reporting and mandate cycle on September 20. That day we will start with adoption of a draft resolution on UN Verification Mission in Colombia, its mandate extension. One-year technical rollover is expected. Immediately after that we will proceed with a regular Middle East briefing and consultations, which includes Palestinian question. Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov is a traditional briefer here.
This brings me to the plans for the High-level week which we are not planning to overburden, since it is a busy week in itself. We scheduled two meetings of the Security Council during that week and the first one is on September 25 when we are having our signature event, ministerial debate entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security: the role of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Commonwealth of Independent States in combating terrorism”. As we used to do before, in previous years, we will invite Secretary-Generals of the respective organizations to brief the Council. Secretary-General António Guterres has also accepted the invitation to brief us. And the number of members of these organizations will participate and speak.
Finally, in the afternoon of September 26 we are having a ministerial briefing “Peace and security in Africa: partnership to strengthen regional peace and security”, which we organize in close cooperation with the African-3 in the Security Council.
Our joint idea is to make an overview of the current security situation on the continent, explore the ways Africa handles the security challenges, and creatively think of how we might boost the regional efforts and capacities. Appropriate concept note is actually our joint product with A3, it will be provided shortly. We will be having the Chef de Cabinet to represent the Secretary-General at the meeting, we also hope to confirm Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chair of the African Commission, as the participant on part of the African Union.
And our Presidency will wrap-up with the so-called “Toledo formula”, on which we are thinking for September 30, which is Monday. And that is also the day when you will see me again.
Q.: On behalf of the United Nations Correspondent Association I thank you for this press-conference and my question will be about Syria. Last month, Secretary-General established an inquiry committee to investigate the airstrikes in Idlib. I wonder if it will increase the tensions in relations between Russia and United Nations Secretariat. And also recently airstrikes by United States put in danger the ceasefire in Idlib. I wonder if you have any comments on that and if it can be discussion of the Security Council this month.
A.: Before I have any comments on this, I would like to congratulate Maria Khrenova who represents TASS on the forthcoming 115th anniversary of the agency, which is the oldest, I believe, news agency in the Soviet Union and now in the Russian Federation.
You put the question in the context of raising tensions between Russia and United Nations Secretariat, I would not be looking at that in this format. We do not have any tensions with the UN Secretariat. Indeed, this commission of inquiry was established by the UN Secretary-General and that will be an ample opportunity for us as well to represent our picture of what is really happening in Idlib. Because during a number of meetings of the Security Council on related issues, we have been telling our partners that according to our information, verified information that we are possessing from our Ministry of Defence, many accusations that Syrian Army and Russian Air Space Forces were thrown at, were false, because coordinates of the facilities allegedly destroyed did not correspond or there was no destruction at the site of those facilities that were allegedly reported hit. So, we have also a few things to provide for that inquiry which will prove that information provided to us on that issue is most of the time either inaccurate or false.
We will be discussing Syria during the month, both at our regular meetings and if anything pops up. Indeed, the ceasefire in Idlib was announced by the Syrian Army and Russian forces on August 31. Paradoxically, the ceasefire was violated by the U.S. bombing of one of the sites in Idlib which this time resulted in destruction and civilian life loss at that area. It was not coordinated through our deconfliction mechanism as it is normally done with our American colleagues. This mechanism worked smoothly all the time during the Syrian conflict after it was established till this very moment which is a little bit – I put it mildly, worrying – but, of course, we will be discussing Syria and we hope to hear good news on Syria during the month of September both after the Astana Format Summit in Istanbul and, hopefully, before or during the High-level week as well.
Q.: Ambassador thank you for the briefing. My question is about the proposal that you put forward in July for the Persian Gulf Security and Cooperation Initiative you proposed to the U.S., Russia, China, EU, India and other stakeholders. Have you got any response to that from any of those parties and what is your view of the U.S. version of a Cooperation Initiative in the Gulf?
One other little technical question on the programme of work – will Foreign Minister Lavrov be presiding at both of the two Security Council meetings during UNGA? And can you give an explanation of why your President Putin will not be attending UNGA when Russia is the Security Council President? Thank you.
A.: Let me start with the last two questions. I count on Minister Lavrov’s presiding over both meetings of the Security Council during the High-level week.
On President Putin, I do not command his schedule. This time his participation in the General Assembly was not planned, we learned it some time ago. I do not see anything extraordinary in this. I hope, next year will be different, next year will be marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, but I will not prejudge anything at this point. But indeed, President Putin is not coming for the High-level.
Q.: Just as a follow-up, President Medvedev did come and presided at the Security Council meeting.
A.: President Putin also came and presided. When he comes, I hope that will be during the High-level week, I am not sure that he will be presiding at the Security Council meeting because it will not be our turn next year, but at least, I hope there will be an opportunity for him to participate in the Security Council meeting if the topic of the meeting is relevant and the schedule permits.
On our initiative on regional cooperation and security in the Gulf, indeed, the concept was presented in Moscow and here in New York we distributed this paper as a document of the Security Council and, I think, of the General Assembly. We received interested responses from countries of the region and outside. We discussed informally this issue with our colleagues in the Security Council. We never had the meeting on that issue. But we have been saying long time in every statement we had on the Middle East or the Gulf that there is no way escaping some way or another of a collective security format in the Gulf and in the region, in the wider region. And we will come to that sooner or later. Sooner rather than later, hopefully, but yet we are not expecting that mechanism to start overnight, but this is a fruitful thought which is deserving serious consideration. And I think it is being considered seriously by many places in the Gulf and outside the Gulf.
What concerns the U.S. reaction, I do not recall any official one on this issue. I may speculate that they may not wholeheartedly accept it from scratch. But I remember, for example, how we together with China were promoting this idea of double suspension in North-East Asia on the DPRK. Initially, that idea was vehemently rejected by some of our partners, U.S. included. What is happening now? De-facto, they are using the concept that we proposed some time ago.
Now we would be pleased if they hijacked our Concept of regional security in the Gulf and then presented it as their own. We would work on it, and I think that would be a good thing. But we should be careful, we should be patient and I think time will take its toll.
Q.: Ambassador, you have already mentioned that you have a meeting on the 10th on Afghanistan. Obviously this is an important time for the country. As you are aware, the U.S. has been talking to the Taliban bilaterally and has some sort of deal there. Some are uncomfortable about this, including, it seems, some in the Afghan government. Given this is a subject – Afghanistan on the Security Council agenda – that Afghanistan has mentioned the numerous resolutions, the Taliban has mentioned numerous resolutions, is it time for this to move from a bilateral process for the Security Council to have some involvement in what is going on in Afghanistan? And in your national capacity what does Russia make of the whatever we know of the interim deal between the U.S. and Afghanistan? Can you perhaps expand on comments out of Moscow a few days ago that Russia is ready to act as a guarantor for the peace deal?
A.: The first question was on the UN Security Council involvement in Afghanistan. I think that Security Council is involved in Afghanistan since it regularly discusses the issue. One of the meetings will be held on September 10. One way or the other the situation around Afghanistan, including talks between the U.S. and Taliban will be subject to consideration. We have consultations with the United States on Afghanistan, which are I think quite helpful and productive. It has been some time already, and I think that we do not have any double agenda on Afghanistan. We are interested in peaceful settlement in that war-torn country that suffered too long. We wish to the Afghani people to reach an agreement that will be Afghani-led and Afghani-conducive. The issue of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan is one of the key topics of negotiations between the U.S. and Taliban. What will happen after eventual withdrawal – that is also an issue of concern.
We know that the Afghani forces are being prepared and strengthened to cope with the potential threats that they may encounter. We see that the wave of terrorism in Afghanistan does not, unfortunately, cease. These events happen basically every week, if not every day. If you talk about us guaranteeing the agreement, we will guarantee any agreement that will be reached primarily by Afghanis themselves, so that the country is finally free from the threat of terrorism and is on the path of development. We know that Afghanistan experiences an influx of terrorists from other areas. This is the country, which is not a stranger to us, it has borders with our allies from the Collective Security Treaty Organization. I think that this issue will feature prominently during discussions on terrorist threats that we will have during our signature event on September 25 with the participation of Secretary-Generals of those regional and sub-regional organizations that I mentioned and of members of those organizations.
Afghanistan is part of that equation in the region. We want a peaceful Afghanistan; we want settlement in Afghanistan. I think Afghanistan deserves it. Whoever reaches the agreement – if it is good for the people of Afghanistan, we will support it. I cannot say, in what form we will guarantee it. First we have to see the agreement in order to be able to define what we can guarantee. We will welcome the early agreement on the Afghani settlement, if that is the case in the near future.
Q.: Very quick follow-up. We might be getting a little ahead of ourselves, but still. That final eventual deal, should it come back to the Council? Should the Council have a final role in this?
A.: It is not easy to answer that question, because we do not know, what this final deal will be like, neither do we know yet between whom this will be and in what format. Should it be a bilateral deal, I am not sure if at least one country that might be part of it would volunteer to go to the Security Council with that deal. There are many unknowns about that thing. Let us come to that later when we know if there is a deal.
Q.: Thank you, Ambassador. In the past few days we saw rising tensions across the border between Lebanon and Israel and almost we slipped into another war. My question is, why Russia is not doing anything to prevent the Israeli attacks, since Russia is controlling a major part of the Syrian airspace? Why are you not doing anything to prevent that? Do you think that there are enough miscalculations from all parties to go into another major conflict in the region? Thank you.
A.: I think that after that incident that took place recently, there were statements that at this stage this episode is over, although there were some follow-up statements that now the hands are free to go if that continues. We very much hope that stability in Lebanon, which is crucial for the Middle East, is maintained. I do not know how you want us to prevent Israeli attacks, eventual attacks or the attacks that happened on parts of the Lebanese territory. We do not control the Lebanese airspace. Neither are we guarantors of the Lebanese airspace. We do not have any arrangements to prevent these things from happening. I am not sure that we are part of that an equation.
You know that the Security Council is looking closely at the issue and there was a document proposed by some of the colleagues on this episode to stop and refrain from further hostilities. I do not know yet the destiny of this document but the Security Council is definitely watching what is happening around Lebanon both during the regular meetings on the UNIFIL operation and during these extraordinary things that unfortunately happened there.
What happened in Lebanon does not contribute to the stability in the Middle East, which is unstable without what is happening around Lebanon. The reasons why it happened are being widely discussed and speculated in the press: who needed that, why it was needed, what dividends it might have brought, etc. This is all very unfortunate and of course can lead to things that happened with Lebanon in the past. However, I am pretty sure nobody is interested in repeating the unfortunate events that happened between the neighboring countries in 2000s and earlier.
Q.: Just a quick follow-up. The attacks in Syria are directly connected to the issue of Lebanon. My question is whether Russia is coordinating that with Israel. Does it accept that and just ignore the fact that this is rising attention where that Russian army has a say? I mean at least in the in the airspace of Syria. It is connected to the Lebanon thing. What I am saying is that it might lead to a wider conflict beyond Lebanon. So where is Russia standing regarding that very critical issue?
A.: We are not coordinating with Israel its attacks on Lebanon, I can assure you. Can it lead to a wider conflict? Yes, it can. If this fires up, it may add gasoline to the fire that is already raging in the Middle East. We would like to avoid it and prevent any escalation of that conflict. But as I said there were messages from both sides that neither side wants this escalation and at least this is positive.
Q.: I have two questions about Syria. The first one is about the point Ambassador Jonathan Allen of the UK brought yesterday for the CNN. He basically says Russian military has cooperated closely with the regime and their planes have also taken part at the bombing raids. Referring to that bombing that targeted hospitals in Idlib, do you have any reaction?
My second question is about something your Foreign Minister told a colleague of mine yesterday about the safe zone, about the agreement between the U.S. and Turkey: “We see such a decision as necessary with the condition that it does not negatively impact the Kurdish issue.” Can you expand on this? How Russia thinks safe zone can be implemented without impacting the Kurdish issue in Syria?
A.: I have not read the piece by Jonathan Allen but the narrative that obviously is used there is very well known to us. We hear it all the time when we have Security Council meetings where we are constantly being blamed and accused of indiscriminate bombing and shelling of Idlib. We have said many times and we have already provided information that the sources of data were not very convincing to us. We know who provides the data, we know, that the data is often unverified. These sources from the ground are something the United Nations often refused to provide information about citing their security.
We showed a few times, that those accusations of bombing of particular targets that were mentioned were false. So this narrative is not new. We hope that with the new data, that we are receiving from the Ministry of Defense, on particular incidents, on particular targets, particular sites that were allegedly bombed we would be able to provide information that discredits the accusations. On the safe zone and the statement by the Foreign Minister. He said, as far as I understand, that he understands the legitimate security concerns of Turkey, without affecting the fate of the Kurdish people. I do not see any contradiction here. Of course, Turkey is interested, that its territory is not targeted by terrorist groups. At the same time, it should not be a reason to ignore the interest of the Kurdish population which is in the northwestern Syria. I do not see any contradiction between these two statements.
Q.: I have got a question for you. If you just look ahead to the UNGA at the end of the month when many world leaders gather here in this building. On Iran: what opportunities do you perhaps see during UNGA to sort of calm down the situation between Iran and the U.S.? What is Russia doing to try and save the nuclear deal? We had this French proposal today, but what is Russia doing?
A.: Russia has been trying to save the nuclear deal from the beginning of the new phase that started in May last year. Both us and China, as well as the European trio and the European Union tried to save the deal and make sure that neither side makes any sudden moves that will bring this situation into the spiral which will not see any way out. We said that we were not particularly happy with what Iran was announcing. Although it did not violate the deal itself, as you know.
But we understood why Iran was doing it - because the deal was a two-way street. One way of the street was closed and Iran was basically left with nothing. Besides the deal was being very seriously pressed and threatened bilaterally by you know what country. What is happening around Iran is far from easing the tensions, although we witnessed a few positive not even moments but hints that something may happen on that Iran track in the near future.
Statements that we hear from both sides are little bit confusing and contradictory yet. We still have to wait and see. We hope that the UN General Assembly and especially the High-level week provides an opportunity for engagement and dialogue. I am not a prophet, so I cannot predict what will happen exactly during that week. However I hope something is cooking. The very presence of the leaders at the General Assembly and the proximity to each other creates an opportunity for certain things to happen, but I would not speculate what exactly will happen during High-level week.
From my presentation as the President of the Security Council, you saw there were no meetings scheduled on any related issues during the High-level week. It is a big place and a big space. We hope that something positive will happen. Let us wait and see.
Q.: The question of Palestine has been on the agenda of the UN since its inception and nothing has been implemented on the ground. UNSC resolutions keeps calling on Israel to hold its settlement activities. Latest of these resolutions is 2334 as you know. Yet every month there is a report about more settlement activities.
All human rights groups, every organization calls on Israel to do something, to stop the settlement, yet Israel had never ever abided by these resolutions. What do you think could be done? Why have the UN miserably failed the Palestinians? Is there anything other than appealing to Israel to hold its settlement activities?
A.: I do not think it is the UN who miserably failed the Palestinians. For all those decades UN was a part if not of a solution, because the solution never materialized, but a part of the process to reach solution. UN was part of the Quartet as you know. But where is the Quartet now? I cannot say it is nonexistent, but it is not functioning. We are still being told about this deal of the century that has been the talk of the town for quite a time. The latest thing I heard was that the plan might come out before the new Israeli elections which are due on 17 September. So we have only 2 weeks to wait, but somehow I have got a feeling that it may be delayed for another period of time and for another reason.
We had a chance after the Oslo agreement, and things were moving, but then you know what happened. I do not think that the UN is particularly to blame for what is not happening. It is very unfortunate - you know that we strongly support the Palestinians. We condemn the Israeli settlement activities. It is not only us who do so – basically the whole world condemns it, which is confirmed by the numbers on the resolution that was adopted on that issue.
I cannot bring you any good news on this issue at the moment, and it has been for some time already. Next time we will hear about it, about the dire situation that is developing around this conflict will be at the briefing by Nickolai Mladenov. He has been getting more and more pessimistic every time I met him ever since I arrived at the UN, and this has been for two years by now.
We have been proposing to re-engage a multilateral approach on that problem which we consider to be the heart of all Middle East-related issues. Unless the Palestinian issue is solved, the Middle East cannot be settled.
I think the European Union basically shares our position about the need for a multilateral approach. However, this does not happen, and I have no good news on that to bring to you so far.
Q.: A question about Yemen. Recent presidential statement by the Security Council talked about attacks against Saudi citizens in Saudi Arabia by the Houthis, whereas citizens in Yemen are systematically targeted by the Saudi-led coalition. If you look at resolution 2216, it seems irrelevant in light of the splits in the Saudi-led coalition. So probably most of resolutions and the statements have become irrelevant with the discord between the Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the Emirates, and other parties. Shouldn’t the Security Council be more proactive regarding the situation in Yemen? Should it try to start from scratch given that 2216 is irrelevant at the moment?
A.: Do you remember that Russia abstained on 2216? Apart from 2216, we have Stockholm agreements, which in the recent past was probably the best hope to resolve the Yemeni conflict.
We all hear from Martin Griffiths on the recent developments this month. You know how difficult the disengagement goes, but disengagement is only one part of the future solution because the real solution is a political solution which is very far on the horizon yet. However, first steps need to be done first, like that disengagement that we are talking about.
To speak about certain resolutions of the UNSC being irrelevant and outdated, and to think that by adopting a new resolution we will change the situation on the ground – I would not call it naïve, but you understand that things are resolved not by resolutions as such. A resolution is a powerful tool, but it is only successful when all parties are ready to accept and adopt it. When certain parties implement a resolution in a piecemeal manner and selectively, it does not have much chance to succeed.
I think that we should understand how difficult the Yemeni conflict is. It is not limited only to what is happening in Hodeidah, or what is happening between the Coalition, the government and the Houthis themselves. Yemen is a kaleidoscope of various forces. Something is happening in the South as well. It is a very difficult task to solve, but we should be consistent with what we have started in Stockholm. If we fail Stockholm, then we will roll back to the point where we have to start it all over again. Therefore I would rather rely on the implementation of the Stockholm agreement, of the first phase of it. And we all hope to hear from Martin Griffiths soon in September about how it is going on.
Q.: UNSMIL mandate is expiring in September. Do you think it should be renewed or you are satisfied with the actions of Special Representative Salame. Do you still support the government of national accord? What would be Russian proposal to stop fighting and stabilize Libya?
A.: You take me for a medical worker. The best pundits in the Security Council are struggling with the idea what to do with Libya and for Libya. Libya is a sad example of geo-engineering as we said. When the Libyan bombing started, we said it would lead to dire consequences not only for Libya but for Sahel, for Africa that we witness now and that basically started with Libya. But Libya itself, as Mr.Salame once said, is a broken glass. It is very difficult to collect these pieces of glass and to glue the whole glass. We think that, as anywhere in the world, only political process can lead to stability in Libya. No military solution is a guarantee of the stability in any country, in Libya in particular.
We support the legitimate government in Libya, we hold meetings with all parties to the Libyan conflict. They frequently go to Moscow, and we see them in other places. We know that countries that are close to Libya and closely affiliated with it take much effort to bring the country together which unfortunately failed due to events that followed.
Of course, the end of hostilities and return to negotiations is the only way that we can hope will solve that puzzle in the future. It is a more difficult dossier in a way than even the Syrian one. I would not be comparing, of course, every situation is different – Yemen is one thing, Syria –another, Libya is a third one, but Libya is a very difficult puzzle. We support efforts by SRSG Salame. In the dire circumstances he did what he could to bring the country together. He is very realistic, he is very sober. He understands the situation very well. The other thing is that here to tango he needs not only one partner but many. If we manage to solve Libya, it will be much easier to solve what is happening in the South of Libya, in Sahel, and around that region in Africa.
Q.: I do not see any consultations about the DPRK and recent missile launches by North Korea. Is it any appetite in the UNSC on this issue? Do you believe they are in violation?
A.: Judging by the programme of work for September, there is no appetite for consultations. It is not anywhere here because nobody raised the issue - during consultation, during our informal discussions. I do not exclude that something may come up during the month, God forbid.
We all are counting on the progress in North East Asia. It is not that easy as anywhere else, but you know there is an appetite to continue. Each party sees it differently, in its own dimension, but there is appetite to continue talks and negotiations. Let us be hopeful about that. We are also consulting with China, with the U.S. on DPRK.
I cannot give you any news on the recent ones, because I was away from it for a while. Therefore I am not very well in the picture. Answering to your direct question, no consultations on that issue are scheduled in the programme of work of the Security Council for the month of September.
Q.: Do the tests constitute a violation?
A.: Frankly, I do not know, because I do not have the technical details. Do you mean the small range missiles?
Q.: Yes, exactly.
A.: I am not sure that they are a violation according to the letter of the resolution.
Q.: Welcome back, Ambassador. Here is a question to you in your national capacity. It is about the Iranian oil tanker that was seized in Gibraltar in July. It is the Grey Swan. It has been floating through the Mediterranean, it has been renamed. Now it has turned off its tracker is near Syria. There are oil tanker tracking companies that say they believe it is near Tartus. You have military presence there. Do you have any information on where this tanker has gone?
Q.: I have a question about the newly appointed Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Mozambique. He was appointed in July. Are you going to work with him? His mandate is political issues, but will you ask him for information on terrorist attacks in Mozambique?
One more question on Guinea-Bissau. If you already had time to read the new SG report about Guinea-Bissau, what do you think about the social situation in this country that deals with drug trafficking?
A.: I was not able to read the new report on Guinea-Bissau. To tell you frankly, I have just arrived. Basically, I have come to this conference straight from the plane. This is a joke, of course. However, I shall need to catch up on a few things including this report. As for the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Mozambique, of course we are ready to work with him as well as with any other representative in any country that the Secretary-General appoints. Normally I meet every representative appointed by the SG. We have not met yet, because I was away on vacation. I hope we will meet soon. When we do, I will address him with the question that you raised. I will do it on your behalf and on my behalf as well.
The issue of terrorism is something we are constantly worried about. Even if a country seems spared of it, you never know and you need to remain vigilant. It will definitely be one of the topics on our agenda when we meet.
Q.: Thank you, Ambassador. The so called humanitarian exemptions to the sanctions that are being put on the DPRK are notoriously failing. How do the Members of the Security Council deal with the fact that they are imposing sanctions on the country that even you and experts say are failing? As your Ambassador Vitaly Churkin used to say, the whole point of sanctions is to force a regime change. Since the DPRK has seen no relief of the sanctions, who can possibly criticize them for now trying to defend themselves?
If I may, I would like to make a historic reference to your great Foreign Minister Gromyko having spoken about the United Nations being part of a very outrageous war against North Korea which destroyed the whole country. He also spoke about the obsequious attitude of the Security Council. What can you say about the sanctions that are failing and harming the people? How does the Security Council live with itself?
A.: There are DPRK-related sanctions which were adopted in accordance with the resolution and are related to the nuclear and ballistic missile weapons. And there are sanctions that have nothing to do with the Security Council resolutions, which are bilateral, or rather unilateral. They are illegitimate. They indeed harm the population of North Korea. We presume that sanctions on North Korea were supposed to have humanitarian exemptions, which are often not observed. It occurs to a degree that UN agencies have difficulties working in North Korea because of these secondary sanctions and because of interpretations of the UN Security Council that were imposed.
I agree that sanctions should know limits and target specific goals, in this case – to prevent development of the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile program. However, they should not affect the population, which, I admit, they do. We voice this every time. Unfortunately, when we raise this issue, we do not find understanding with some of the Security Council Members. I mean the issue that the population of North Korea should not suffer under those sanctions that have been imposed illegitimately.
Thank you very much for being with me today.