MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- Russia and Iran will look for new methods of countering the negative effect of sanctions on bilateral economic relations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Iran’s IRIB broadcaster Saturday.
Moscow and Tehran are taking measures not to allow bilateral trade and economic cooperation "to shrink,” Russia’s top diplomat pointed out.
"On the contrary, it is growing, in particular, thanks to the refusal to use the U.S. dollar, the shift of the gravity center towards national currencies in settlements and new creative schemes of economic interaction. It works,” he stressed.
Lavrov said he was "convinced that we will be looking for new methods of ignoring the sanctions’ negative economic effect”.
He said there can be no reliance on the Western countries that are applying sanctions and there should be reliance on the states that firmly follow the principles of international law.
According to Lavrov, it is necessary to build up the campaign in the UN and at other multilateral forums for denouncing unilateral sanctions, promoting the general understanding of the need to terminate them.
"For many years, we have been voting together with Iran and an overwhelming majority of UN members in support of the resolution on the illegitimacy of the economic blockade of Cuba. Only 2-3 members of the organization, together with the United States, do not support it,” Lavrov said.
The Russian foreign minister said the post of the special rapporteur on illegitimate unilateral economic sanctions has been set up at the UN.
"It is necessary to support the activity of this important institution in every possible way. It has prepared several reports based on the UN Charter principles, first of all, equality, the peaceful settlement of disputes and non-interference in internal affairs. We will necessarily continue work in this direction.”
Lavrov said Moscow’s support for Tehran is not limited only to denouncing U.S. anti-Iranian sanctions.
"We do not just refuse to recognize unilateral sanctions, but support Iran with specific measures. Perhaps, we are doing more than anyone else. In terms of figures, this amounts to billions of dollars. The work is ongoing in all the directions: from agriculture to information technologies.”
Russia, he said, flatly rejects any attempts of imposing illegitimate unilateral restrictions and also applying them extraterritorially, which it signaled "quite clearly” after the United States pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under the Iranian nuclear program
The Russian foreign minister cited the statistics of Russia’s trade with Iran. In particular, bilateral trade grew by over 20% in 2019 while in the first half of this year it expanded by 8%, considering the grave consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
"We do not have such indicators actually with anyone else when trade is growing and not decreasing amid coronavirus restrictions,” Lavrov said.
Russia’s imports from the Islamic Republic grew considerably faster than its exports, the foreign minister said. Russia’s top diplomat also recalled a temporary free trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) that had entered into force in 2019 and facilitated the efforts to create conditions for Iranian output’s access to the large-scale market of all the association’s member states.
Lavrov also said the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh within the Azerbaijan-Armenia-Russia format was not reached with disregard for Iran’s interests.
The parties to the conflict themselves expressed their interest in Russia’s mediation. "There is no ‘back’ thought in that,” the foreign minister stressed.
"Now it is necessary to think not about who and when has had or has not had the time to help the settlement. Let me stress again, it was the choice of Azerbaijan and Armenia to decide on the format. The structure of the participants in the [trilateral] statement [on the complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh] was prompted precisely by that and not by anything else. There were no and could have been no attempts to do this at the expense of Iran or Turkey,” Lavrov said.
Russia’s top diplomat also said that
when the Astana format (Russia, Iran and Turkey) was mentioned in the context of the Karabakh conflict as an example of success, the talk was not about the countries involved in it.
"Our position is as follows: when the countries that have the possibility to influence the situation in a particular crisis region (even if they advocate different approaches that do not always coincide) decide to help the conflicting parties stop the bloodshed and unite their efforts, this serves as a good example. This is the value of the Astana format,” Lavrov said.
Iran’s interests, he said, were not ignored in this case in any way and Moscow understands Tehran’s concerns over how relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia will have their effect on the Islamic Republic’s transit interests that have special significance amid the U.S. sanctions.
"It is impossible to give up the basic principle that has been approved by all for many years: a conflict must result in normalizing the relations in the entire region,” Lavrov said.
Moreover, the trilateral statement by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia on Nagorno-Karabakh is consonant with the Iranian initiative announced amidst the conflict and offering a regional approach, Russia’s foreign minister said.
In Lavrov’s opinion, a similar vision geared towards regional cooperation was outlined by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who mentioned the possibility of developing cooperation between the three Trans-Caucasian states (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) and their three neighbors: Iran, Turkey and Russia.
"This is an observation that lies on the surface. We all live nearby and now that the problems between the Trans-Caucasian countries are being overcome, we, as neighbors, need to help this process,” Russia’s top diplomat pointed out.