Koenders has ‘serious talks’ with Lavrov

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders, had intensive talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Friday evening. They discussed issues concerning the MH17 air disaster, the situation in Ukraine, the entry ban imposed on certain members of parliament and the conflict in the Middle East. ‘The talks weren’t easy because we disagree on many points. But we have to have these discussions,’ said Mr Koenders.

‘As far as MH17 is concerned it’s vital that we build on Security Council Resolution 2166 in which the international community committed itself to finding those responsible and bringing them to justice,’ said the Dutch foreign minister. ‘I stressed that it’s crucial we follow up this resolution as soon as possible, not least in the interests of the next of kin.’ ‘Minister Lavrov reaffirmed today that Russia fully stands by what has previously been agreed in resolution 2166,’ said Mr Koenders after the meeting.
Mr Koenders also briefed his Russian counterpart on the recently completed repatriation mission and his efforts to gather and retain international support for the prosecution of the perpetrators. The Dutch foreign minister will also speak to other members of the Security Council to emphasise the importance of the resolution. ‘It’s our responsibility to pull out all the stops in order to keep the attention of the international community focused on MH17. We owe it to the victims and the next of kin.’
During the meeting, Mr Koenders also criticised the Russian entry ban imposed on a number of members of parliament. ‘I said that I didn’t agree with the drawing up of this list and insisted on full transparency and for those people on the list to be given the opportunity to submit an objection,’ he said. The European Union had earlier also condemned the Russian entry bans. ‘Last week the chargé d'affaires ad interim at the Russian embassy was summoned to my ministry, but it is also good to be able to convey this message in person to my colleague.’
Mr Koenders and Mr Lavrov also discussed the worsening situation in eastern Ukraine. ‘I urged Russia to cooperate in the full implementation of the agreements made in Minsk to bring about a permanent end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘This is an absolute precondition for any reconsideration of the sanctions.’ The Dutch foreign minister is very concerned about the continuing violence in eastern Ukraine. ‘The fighting has already caused suffering to the people in that region for too long. The parties involved must abide by the agreed ceasefire, withdraw their heavy weapons and allow monitoring by observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.’
The two ministers also discussed the dire situation in Syria. Mr Koenders underlined the importance of the UN process headed by special envoy Staffan de Mistura. ‘Russia’s contacts with regional players can make a contribution towards promoting the necessary process of political transition.’