Speeches

Murray McCully meets Russian Foreign Minister

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 12:00
Foreign Affairs

I want to thank Foreign Minister Lavrov for very constructive discussions and a warm reception in Moscow.

We have held full and wide ranging discussions. Russia plays an important role in global affairs and I valued the opportunity to hear Russia’s views directly.

Bilaterally we have seen trade relations decline in the last two years.

New Zealand and Russia hold different views on the situation in Ukraine, and while we are not part of the sanctions or counter-sanctions process, these differences have constrained trade relations.

Today we have discussed how we can improve trade outcomes within the current policy settings, and looked forward to the opportunity to improve those settings, and maximise the real potential for our trade and economic relations, as conditions permit.

In that regard, I emphasised New Zealand’s support for the Minsk agreements and their full implementation as a basis for resolving this very serious situation.

Also, on the bilateral front I recorded New Zealand’s appreciation of Russia’s intention to send a naval vessel to be part of the 75th anniversary of the New Zealand Navy later this year.

We also discussed our shared interests in Antarctica.

New Zealand is just over halfway through the second year in our term on the UN Security Council. We hold the Presidency in September and Russia will take over for the month of October.

New Zealand as a small nation has a strong commitment to international law and good international institutions as a basis for resolving differences.

Today, we have had the opportunity to compare notes and exchange views on the topics that will be on the Council agenda, especially during our respective Presidencies.

We discussed the situation in Syria, where we have expressed our support for the dialogue between the US and Russia, to attempt to find a way forward.

I have urged Minister Lavrov to use Russia’s very significant influence to broker a resolution.

And we have made clear our own view that the UN Security Council, a body charged with pursuing international peace and security, needs to step up and play a leadership role if the parties cannot find a way forward.

We reviewed the situation in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, the Middle East Peace Process, the Korean peninsula, and discussed areas for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Finally, I took the opportunity to thank Minister Lavrov for his courteous meeting with Helen Clark, our former Prime Minister and candidate for the position of UN Secretary General, when she visited Moscow very recently.

We fully understand the view that an Eastern European Secretary General should be appointed as a consequence of the rotational process.

New Zealand believes that although this is a relevant consideration, the United Nations today faces very significant challenges to its role and credibility.

In these difficult times, we believe merit should determine the next person to hold that important office.

For that reason, New Zealand has nominated Helen Clark, and we appreciated the manner in which she was received in Moscow.