Trying to preserve their “self-proclaimed status as world leaders,” some Western powers have no qualms about putting pressure on others, Foreign Minister Lavrov told the UN General Assembly on Friday. He didn’t name the countries, but said they use “political blackmail, economic pressure and brute force.”
The world has to pay a high price for these selfish ambitions by a tiny group of countries.
Lavrov, who was once Russia’s envoy to the UN for a decade, told the gathering that the culture of diplomacy and negotiating is being replaced by diktats and one-sided sanctions put in place without UN approval. Such restrictions that extend to dozens of countries “are either unlawful or inefficient,” the minister noted, citing the US’ decades-long blockade of Cuba.
“But history didn’t teach us anything,” Lavrov said, adding that allegations “based on the notorious ‘highly likely’ thing are sufficient for some Western counterparts to pin the blame on anyone.”
We do remember how often these unfounded claims were used to justify interventions and ignite wars, such the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, 2003 invasion of Iraq and 2011 intervention in Libya.
The list of Western-led invasions was obviously not exhaustive, as Lavrov referred to the seven-year Syrian war as one of the latest instances. A failed attempt to topple the regime in Damascus – which was conducted by engaging extremists – could have seen the whole country collapse and give way to a “terrorist caliphate.”
Lavrov praised the Astana Peace Process, launched jointly by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, which he said helped prevent Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and other groups from claiming all of Syria.
Top priority now is to rebuild war-ridden places in the country and help refugees safely return to their homes.
Jumping back to the great powers competition, Lavrov stated that the UN was in fact created “on the lessons learnt from the Second World War.”
The Russian foreign minister noted that 2018 marks 80 years since the “disgraceful” 1938 Munich Agreement, in which France and Britain agreed to allow the Nazi annexation of the German-populated part of Czechoslovakia in a bid to appease Hitler.
Though Neville Chamberlain, then British prime minister, claimed the Munich Agreement meant “peace for our time,” the war started one year later. “The Munich betrayal” shows us how far “national egoism and neglect of international law” can go, Lavrov said.
Colonial-era diktat and coercion should be sent into the archive or the dustbin of history.
Moscow believes constructive dialogue can meet any challenges that arise in world affairs, according to Lavrov.
“If you have any questions or claims to anyone, then sit down and talk, show facts, listen to your counterpart’s arguments, try to balance your interests.”