Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 35.2019
2019.08.26 — 2019.09.01
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS was created as a tool of attack: Lula (БРИКС был создан как инструмент атаки: Лула) / Brazil, August, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
Author: Pepe Escobar

Former Brazilian leader wishes emerging economies were closer, recalls Obama 'crashing' Copenhagen climate meet

In a wide-ranging, two-hour-plus, exclusive interview from a prison room in Curitiba in southern Brazil, former Brazilian president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva re-emerged for the first time, after more than 500 days in jail, and sent a clear message to the world.

Amid the 24/7 media frenzy of scripted sound bites and "fake news", it's virtually impossible to find a present or former head of state anywhere, in a conversation with journalists, willing to speak deep from his soul, to comment on all current political developments and relish telling stories about the corridors of power. And all that while still in prison.

The first part of this mini-series focused on the Amazon. Here, we will focus on Brazil's relationship with BRICS and Beijing. BRICS is the grouping of major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – that formed in 2006 and then included South Africa in their annual meetings from 2010.

My first question to Lula was about BRICS and the current geopolitical chessboard, with the US facing a Russia-China strategic partnership. As president, from 2003 to 2010, Lula was instrumental in formatting and expanding the influence of BRICS – in sharp contrast with Brazil's current President, Jair Bolsonaro, who appears to be convinced that China is a threat.

Lula stressed that Brazil should have been getting closer to China in a mirror process of what occurred between Russia and China: "When there was a BRICS summit here in Ceará state in Brazil, I told comrade Dilma [Rousseff, the former president] that we should organize a pact like the Russia-China pact. A huge pact giving the Chinese part of what they wanted, which was Brazil's capacity to produce food and energy and also the capacity to have access to technological knowledge. Brazil needed a lot of infrastructure. We needed high-speed rail, many things. But in the end that did not happen."

Lula defined his top priorities as he supported the creation of BRICS: economic autonomy, and uniting a group of nations capable of helping what the Washington consensus describes as LDCs – least developed countries.

He emphasized: "BRICS was not created to be an instrument of defense, but to be an instrument of attack. So we could create our own currency to become independent from the US dollar in our trade relations; to create a development bank, which we did – but it is still too timid – to create something strong capable of helping the development of the poorest parts of the world."

Former Brazilian leader Lula speaks from a room in a prison in southern Brazil. Photo: Editora Brasil 247 Lula made an explicit reference to the United States' fears about a new currency: "This was the logic behind BRICS, to do something different and not copy anybody. The US was very much afraid when I discussed a new currency and Obama called me, telling me, 'Are you trying to create a new currency, a new euro?' I said, 'No, I'm just trying to get rid of the US dollar. I'm just trying not to be dependent.'"

One can imagine how this went down in Washington.

Obama may have been trying to warn Lula that the US 'Deep State' would never allow BRICS to invest in a currency or basket of currencies to bypass the US dollar. Later on, Vladimir Putin and Erdogan would warn President Dilma – before she was impeached – that Brazil would be mercilessly targeted. In the end, the leadership of the Workers' Party was caught totally unprepared by a conjunction of sophisticated hybrid-war techniques.

One of the largest economies in the world was taken over by hardcore neoliberals, practically without any struggle. Lula confirmed it in the interview, saying: "We should look at where we got it wrong."

Lula also hit a note of personal disappointment. He expected much more from BRICS. "I imagined a more aggressive BRICS, more proactive and more creative. 'The Soviet empire has already fallen; let's create a democratic empire.' I think we made some advances, but we advanced slowly. BRICS should be much stronger by now."

Lula, Obama and China It's easy to imagine how what has followed went down in Beijing. That explains to a great extent the immense respect Lula enjoys among the Chinese leadership. And it's also relevant to the current global debate about what's happening in the Amazon. Let just Lula tell the story in his own, inimitable, Garcia Marquez-tinged way.

"One thing that the Chinese must remember, a lot of people were angry in Brazil when I recognized China as a market economy. Many of my friends were against it. But I said, 'No, I want the Chinese at the negotiating table, not outside. Is there any discord? Put them inside the WTO, let's legalize everything.' I know that [Chinese President] Hu Jintao was much pleased.

"Another thing we did with China was at the COP-15 [Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] in Copenhagen in 2009. Let me tell you something: I arrived at COP-15 and there was a list of people requesting audiences with me – Angela Markel, Sarkozy, Gordon Brown; Obama had already called twice – and I didn't know why I was important. What did they all want? They all wanted us to agree, at COP-15, that China was the prime polluting evil on earth. Sarkozy came to talk to me with a cinematographic assembly line, there were 30 cameras, a real show: Lula accusing China. Then I had a series of meetings and I told them all, 'Look, I know China is polluting. But who is going to pay for the historical pollution you perpetrated before China polluted? Where is the history commission to analyze English industrialization?''

"Then something fantastic happened. An agreement was not in sight, I wanted Sarkozy to talk to Ahmadinejad – later I'll tell you this thing about Iran [he did, later in the interview]. Ahmadinejad did not go to our dinner, so there was no meeting. But then, we were discussing, discussing, and I told Celso [Amorim, Brazil's Foreign Minister], 'Look, Celso, there's a problem, this meeting will end without an agreement, and they are going to blame Brazil, China, India, Russia. We need to find a solution.' Then I proposed that Celso call the Chinese and set up a parallel meeting. That was between Brazil, China, India and perhaps South Africa. Russia, I think, was not there. And in this meeting, imagine our surprise when Hillary Clinton finds out about it and tries to get inside the meeting. The Chinese didn't let her. All these Chinese, so nervous behind the door, and then comes Obama. Obama wanted to get in and the Chinese didn't let him. China was being represented by Jiabao [Wen Jiabao, the prime minister].

Lula and US President Barack Obama, on left, attend a meeting with Chinese and other leaders in Copenhagen in December 2009 at the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference. AFP / Jewel Samad "Then we let Obama in, Obama said, 'I'm gonna sit down beside my friend Lula so I won't be attacked here.' So he sat by my side and started to talk about the agreement, and we said there is no agreement. And then there was this Chinese, a negotiator, he was so angry at Obama, he was standing up, speaking in Mandarin, nobody understood anything, we asked for a translation, Jiabao did not allow it, but the impression, by his gesticulation, was that the Chinese was hurling all sorts of names at Obama, he talked aggressively, pointing his finger, and Obama said, 'He is angry.' The Brazilian ambassador, who said she understood a little bit of Mandarin – she said he used some pretty heavy words.

"The concrete fact is that in this meeting we amassed a great deal of credibility, because we refused to blame the Chinese. I remember a plenary session where Sarkozy, Obama and myself were scheduled to speak. I was the last speaker. When I arrived at the plenary there was nothing, not a thing written on a piece of paper. I told one of my aides, please go out, prepare a few talking points for me, and when he left the room they called me to speak; they had inverted the schedule. I was very nervous. But that day I made a good speech. It got a standing ovation. I don't know what kind of nonsense I said [laughs]. Then Obama started speaking. He didn't have anything to say. So there was this mounting rumor in the plenary: He ended up making a speech that no one noticed. And then with Sarkozy, the same thing.

"What I had spoken about was the role of Brazil in the environmental question. I'll get someone from the Workers' Party to find this speech for you. The new trend in Brazil is to try to compare policies between myself and Bolsonaro. You cannot accept his line that NGOs are setting fire to the Amazon. Those burning the Amazon are his voters, businessmen, people with very bad blood, people who want to kill indigenous tribes, people who want to kill the poor."

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Minister of External Relations of Angola Manuel Domingos Augusto, Moscow, August 26, 2019 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы СМИ Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе совместной пресс-конференции по итогам переговоров с Министром иностранных дел Республики Ангола М.Д.Аугушту, Москва, 26 августа 2019 года) / Russia, August, 2019
Keywords: foregn_miinisters_meeting, sergey_lavrov, quotation

Ladies and gentlemen,

We had a very productive meeting. We held in-depth discussions on Russian-Angolan relations and our cooperation on the international stage.

Our countries are bound by years-long ties of friendship and cooperation that go back to the period of Angola's fight for freedom and independence.

We noted the high and ever growing standards of mutual understanding and mutual trust. We spoke at length about the specific fields of bilateral collaboration, primarily those where our cooperation was put down on paper during the official visit of President of Angola Joao Lourenco to Russia in April of this year and his talks with President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

Both of us called for strengthening our political dialogue. We agree that our trade and economic ties are growing ever stronger, which meets our mutual desire to advance our business partnership even further. We are preparing to implement several mutually beneficial industrial and mining projects, especially in diamond mining, as well as in the sphere of power generation, fishing, transport, agribusiness, space communications, finance and lending, plus military and technical cooperation. We have decided that the next meeting of the Russian-Angolan Intergovernmental Committee on Military and Technical Cooperation will be held in the latter half of the year to confirm our movement towards this goal.

Economically-wise, Russian companies have shown considerable interest in the broad and promising Angolan market. We have agreed to continue to help establish direct contacts between our business communities, including at the level of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation and Trade. The Russian-Angolan Business Council, which was established in March of this year, will be instrumental in this. The list of side events of the Russia-Africa Summit, which is scheduled to be held in Sochi on October 23−24, includes a meeting between the co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Commission and a dialogue between the Russian and Angolan companies that are working together within the framework of our plans for deepening our economic cooperation.

We are also promoting our cultural, humanitarian and interregional exchanges. We pointed out the positive practice and experience of training Angolan professionals at Russian universities, where some 1,120 Angolans are currently being educated. In addition to this, several score of Angolans are studying at the universities of the Russian Ministry of the Interior.

We have agreed to discuss the improvement of our contractual legal framework in various areas, such as mutual recognition of diplomas, the establishment and operating terms of culture and information centres, cooperation in crisis management, the peaceful use of nuclear energy and commercial shipping.

We have exchanged views on pressing issues on the regional and international agenda, revealing similar or even identical positions. Our two countries are unanimous in their advocacy of strict respect for international law in full compliance with the UN Charter. This implies, first of all, respect for the sovereignty of each state, the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, and, of course, the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world, where every nation has the right to independently determine its development path. Based on these most important principles, we closely cooperate at the UN and support each other. We are grateful to our Angolan friends for their co-authorship and for voting in favour of all the main Russian initiatives at this global platform.

It was very useful to listen to our Angolan friends' assessments of the situation in Africa, especially in such hot spots as the Congo and Africa's Great Lakes, the Central African Republic and others. We greatly appreciate the active peacekeeping role of Angola in helping to resolve conflicts on the African continent. We are confident, like our Angolan friends, that addressing Africa's problems requires a comprehensive approach, which involves coordinated action by Africans themselves with support from the international community. For our part, we have reaffirmed our readiness to continue to contribute, including as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to the consolidation of stability and security in Africa.

The cooperation between African states and organisations and BRICS is an important aspect of modern international relations. We agreed that we will continue the practice that began in 2018, when representatives of leading subregional African organisations attended the BRICS summit.

I especially would like to emphasise that, concerning the UN Security Council reform, Russia strongly advocates reaching the broadest possible consensus, with priority given to fixing the main shortcoming of the existing Security Council – the underrepresentation of emerging countries. Any reform of the UN Security Council should be ultimately aimed at increasing the representation of Asia, Latin America and Africa of course. Russia will preside over the UN Security Council in September. One of the key priorities of our presidency is to help Africans deal with their problems – crises, conflicts and other situations.

In general, we are satisfied with the outcome of the talks. I am confident that Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel Augusto's visit will contribute to the further promotion of Russian-Angolan cooperation. Thank you.

Question: The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, went on record as saying the other day that, in his opinion, the Syrian army's advance to liberate Khan Shaykhun and other areas was a gross violation of the spirit of both the Astana and Sochi arrangements. Do you agree with this?

Sergey Lavrov: As far as the developments in the Idlib de-escalation zone, specifically in the area of Khan Shaykhun and its environs, are concerned, [I can say that] the Syrian armed forces are operating with our support and breaching no arrangements. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that last September's agreements provided for the establishment of a de-escalation zone and encouraged the cessation of hostilities conducted by the illegal armed groups, given the understanding that no one has freed the terrorists (identified as such by the UN Security Council) from [implementing] the Security Council resolutions. The ceasefire regime has not applied to them from the start.

It became clear that the terrorists had not calmed down. More than that, they were intensifying their provocative activities from within the Idlib zone by attacking the Syrian army's positions, civilian facilities, and Russia's Khmeimim Air Base. Early in 2019, we again came to terms with the Turkish colleagues on the need to create a demilitarised strip within the Idlib de-escalation zone so that it is stripped of weapons capable of "reaching" the Syrian army's infrastructure I have mentioned, the civilian facilities and the Russian military base. Our Turkish colleagues have established several observation posts there for this demilitarised strip to start operating. We suggested organising joint patrolling. So far, we have failed to do this. Regardless of all the measures that have been adopted, including the establishment by the Turkish armed forces of their observation posts, the shelling from within the Idlib zone, as we have repeatedly said, continued "over the head" of the Turkish observers and, to some extent, even grew more intense. Of course, to cut short these violations and the provocative, unacceptable actions, strikes are delivered at the targets that present a threat for the Syrian territory and the Russian air base. No one has ever agreed that there would be no retaliation of this kind against terrorist organisations that attack [us] by fire. This is why, when the Syrian army eliminated the seat at Khan Shaykhun, this was done totally legitimately and it was necessary from the point of view of the Syrian settlement goals set by the UN Security Council.

I would like to note that we too often hear emotional remarks about the sufferings of the civilian population and international humanitarian law violations caused by the Syrian army as it operates, with support from the Russian Aerospace Forces, in Idlib. They are pointing to hospitals that were allegedly ruined on purpose and spreading other fabrications. Once again, I would like to express the hope that the international media and the press community will use facts rather than the above-mentioned allegations, the more so that the majority of these insinuations come from the notorious White Helmets. We will do all we can to enable journalists to see with their own eyes what the current rather nervous campaign is all about.

Question: The G7 leaders held a heated discussion on the possibility of readmitting Russia to the club. Does cooperation in this format have a future? Under what conditions would Russia agree to re-join the group? Would it accept a possible US invitation to attend the next G7 summit meeting?

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding the eight- or seven-country format, they did not sign any documents even though Russia did not attend. President Vladimir Putin said on this subject during his talks with President of France Emanuel Macron a week ago that the G8 does not exist. This was our Western partners' decision. We are working actively and productively within the framework of other formats, such as BRICS, the SCO, the integration associations created in the post-Soviet space and the G20, not to mention the UN. Never during that time have we raised the idea of relaunching the G8 in our contacts with anyone. In fact, it wasn't considered when making our foreign policy plans. But our Western colleagues suddenly started talking about the G8, making several public statements on this matter. Some of them spoke about the need to revive the G8, while others argued that Russia does not deserve it and that it's impossible or can only be done on certain conditions.

Someone suggested creating a 7+1 group. It appears the G7 leaders are trying to convince or dissuade themselves. We have no connection to this at all.

We have not asked anyone about any of this. As I said, we learned about these developments from the public statements made by some of our Western colleagues. We have not made and will not make any requests regarding this. Life has moved on. As President Putin said at Fort de Brégançon, we are not trying to avoid contact with the G7 countries, but if we look at the global economy and politics, including financial policies, the main problems are decided on at the G20, which includes the G7 and all the BRICS countries. Our positions at the G20 are determined by the approaches that are coordinated at BRICS. This is a fact. It is the reality from which we must proceed.

Question: How would you assess the threats from the United States to the Damascus International Fair participants?

Sergey Lavrov: The Damascus International Fair opens in a few days. We heard that the US is threatening all participants in this exhibition with sanctions, seeing their very presence at this event as "support" for "the Syrian regime," as they say. This is the kind of rhetoric that we regularly hear from the US concerning Syria or other countries where governments hold independent positions, not dance to someone else's tune.

At the same time, I would like to point out one circumstance the US administration fails to mention while threatening the Damascus International Fair participants. I am referring to what the US is doing and making its allies do on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. There they are doing the opposite: not only do they allow anyone to carry out projects in the area, but they even urge their allies in the region and in Europe to make every effort to help get life back to normal there, rebuild infrastructure, resolve humanitarian issues and, in the longer term, create conditions for the normal functioning of this territory. I will not discuss how realistic this is while they still fail to agree on how to resolve military and political issues and ensure security in the region.

As you know, discussions are underway between the US and Turkey, and between the Kurds and Arabs. The situation is not simple. But I am only mentioning this to emphasise that this approach is unacceptable – by pursuing this policy with respect to the eastern bank of the Euphrates, the United States is undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR). This is a gross violation of the US' obligations undertaken together with all other members of the international community by voting for the UN Security Council resolution that unequivocally reaffirmed the inviolability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. I hope our American partners will be more respectful of international law. Right now, their actions regarding the Iranian nuclear programme, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the INF Treaty do not give us any hope that these calls will be heeded.

Question: It has become known that there may shortly be a Normandy format summit. Will there be a ministerial meeting before this? When will it take place?

Sergey Lavrov: We have already said many times that the Normandy format is helpful. Vladimir Putin confirmed this during his meeting with President of France Emmanuel Macron at Fort Bregancon. We are also constantly reminding our partners that to keep this format going it is important to implement the decisions reached within its framework before. One of these decisions is the disengagement of forces and military hardware, starting with three pilot districts. Disengagement has finally started in Stanitsa Luganskaya that was a stumbling block due to the absolutely destructive position of the Poroshenko regime. Moreover, it has already made substantial progress. Now both sides have started eliminating fortifications on both sides of the contact line. The repair work of a bridge in Stanitsa Luganskaya is being discussed. This is a very positive turn of events. After this, it will be necessary to organise the disengagement of forces in two other districts – Petrovskoye and Zolotoye ‒ that were mentioned in the Normandy format. The disengagement took place there but the Ukrainian armed forces crept back. The Contact Group is dealing with this. I hope that the disengagement of forces will take place in all three districts and that the Normandy format can be applied to the entire line of contact. This would be very important.

The second term that must be fulfilled is to seal legally the Steinmeier formula to the effect that the special status of the Donbass territory will temporarily be introduced on the day of the elections. It will become permanent when the OSCE observers submit a report on the free and fair elections. I think this is the minimum that is common knowledge that is essential for another Normandy format summit to take place.

As for a ministerial contact, as you already know we do not yet have a partner in Ukraine. The government is still to be formed there. Before talking about contacts in the Normandy format and planning them, we would like to understand what position the new government will assume as regards the Minsk Agreements when it is formed. As with our German and French partners we really do hope that the new government will unequivocally reaffirm its commitment to the Minsk Agreements.

This is all the more important since during the election campaign and immediately after the elections we heard many contradictory statements on behalf of the new administration, the new office of the Ukrainian president, that ran counter to Kiev's commitments to this very important issue. So let me emphasise once again that confirmation of the commitment to the Minsk Agreements on behalf of the Ukrainian authorities will be very important.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with External Affairs Minister of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Moscow, August 28, 2019 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы СМИ Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе совместной пресс-конференции по итогам переговоров с Министром иностранных дел Республики Индии С.Джайшанкаром, Москва, 28 августа 2019 года) / Russia, August, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, sergey_lavrov_quotation

We have held constructive and beneficial talks with my Indian colleague. It was my first full-format meeting with Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after his appointment as India's Minister of External Affairs.

Today we discussed ways to build up our privileged strategic partnership, including on the foreign policy stage. Our partnership is intrinsically valuable; it is immune to any short-term factors and has been actively supported at the top level during regular meetings between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. They met five times last year and twice this year.

Today we focused our attention on preparations for Prime Minister Modi's upcoming visit to Russia, where he will hold talks with President Putin and attend the fifth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok as a guest of honour. We discussed in detail the agenda of the meeting and agreed that we are moving in the right direction.

We pointed out the positive dynamics of our trade and economic ties. Our trade increased by over 17 per cent to nearly $11 billion last year, and this positive trend has been maintained this year. Following our talks, Mr Jaishankar will hold in-depth discussions on bilateral trade, economic and investment cooperation with Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, co-chair of the Russian-Indian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation.

We share a positive view on our military technical cooperation and its prospects, including the possibility of enhancing the joint manufacturing of modern weapons. We agreed to promote our multifaceted cooperation in space exploration, nuclear energy and other high-tech spheres.

We have similar or identical views on the key global and regional issues. We agree that interstate dialogue must be based on the principles of the UN Charter and respect of the nations' right to choose their development model. We work together and closely coordinate our activities at the UN, the G20, BRICS, the SCO and RIC.

We discussed a number of specific subjects, such as the need to stimulate our efforts within the Russia-India-Iran format to create the International North-South Transport Corridor. Our concerned agencies are holding practical consultations on this matter

We also noted that deepening economic cooperation with India is among the top priorities of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). All the necessary procedures have been completed for launching official talks on a free trade agreement between the EAEU and India. An early launch of these talks will mark a major stage of cooperation between the two parties.

Overall, our talks have confirmed, as I said, the privileged nature of our strategic partnership. Both sides are resolved to implement the instructions issued by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to continue to promote our relations.

Question: What can you say about US President Donald Trump's statement to the effect that at a certain point of time, countries like India and Russia will have to fight terrorism in Afghanistan?

Sergey Lavrov: Fighting terrorism and drug trafficking, which is financing it, is a key element of our policy towards Afghanistan and the focus of our efforts undertaken within both the Moscow format and the Russia-US-China group to which we would like to attract other countries as well, including India, Pakistan and Iran. All of these efforts are intended to promote a political settlement in Afghanistan that will be acceptable to all the main ethnic and religious political groups, will be based on the principle of national consensus and will exclude the threats of terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking, which are coming from Afghanistan. This position coincides with the basic stand of our Indian friends and the majority of other countries that are contributing to such a settlement.

On the practical side, we continue to provide assistance and equipment to the Afghan army and security forces. So far they have been unable to root out the terrorist threat on their own, which is why we must carry on our efforts in this sphere. There is no doubt that the fight against terrorism must exclude any double standards.

For a number of reasons, including the wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria launched by the United States and its allies, the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) is spreading to other countries, such as Afghanistan, where ISIS is trying to take a stand in the north and to create a bridgehead for projecting its influence onto our Central Asian allies. We are alarmed by the reports, which appeared long ago, according to which our Western colleagues' policy of double standards towards this terrorist group, which has been prohibited by the UN Security Council and which they are trying to use to attain one-sided geopolitical goals in Afghanistan. I will not go into details now but we are discussing this matter with the concerned states. I can assure you that we have almost identical views with India on Afghanistan. Today we have agreed to continue to closely coordinate our efforts on this issue.

Question (addressed to Sergey Lavrov): Mr Lavrov, what do you think about France's initiative to ease sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the French leadership's initiatives to overcome the crisis over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran's nuclear programme, President of Russia Vladimir Putin had a detailed conversation with President of France Emmanuel Macron at the Russian-French summit in Bregancon a week ago. President Putin supported the proposal of his French counterpart to revive the JCPOA and all the relevant agreements. As for specific steps in this area (I will not describe them in detail because they are still a subject of negotiations and confidential consultations), they will be successful if they are acceptable for all participants in the JCPOA, including the Islamic Republic of Iran. We are willing to facilitate the achievement of this goal.

Question (addressed to Sergey Lavrov): You are going to discuss new areas of bilateral cooperation at the forthcoming Russian-Indian summit and the economic forum. Do you intend to promote Russian products in India? I am referring to cheese, honey, herbs and other consumer goods that may find a market in India.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you for mentioning cheese among the achievements of Russian agriculture. This shows that import substitution not only works in Russia but has already won recognition in the whole world, at least in one of its largest democracies.

We don't need to promote our products in India because our Indian partners know the Russian market very well. We maintain very close contacts between our ministries, departments, private companies and state corporations. We have studied each other's markets very well. Our Indian partners are very well informed about our potentialities — not only in cheese-making and honey production but also in high-tech areas. Moreover, many projects on using Russian technology in India, both in the civilian and military-technical sectors have been carried out for years. We are trying to take full account of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" programme. We are pleased to work on specific projects. I think the summit in Vladivostok on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum will produce more specific results in this context.
Lavrov says Russia did not ask anyone to raise G8 revival issue (Лавров говорит, что Россия никого не просила поднимать вопрос возрождения G8) / Russia, August, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

The top diplomat stressed that the G20 was more important for Russia than the G8 framework

MOSCOW, August 26. /TASS/. Russia did not ask anyone to initiate the discussion on reviving the G8 framework, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters at a news conference on Monday.

"We did not ask anyone [to raise the issue]. I have already said that we learned about that from public statements made by some of our Western counterparts. We did not reach out to anyone on the matter and are not going to do so," he said.

Lavrov noted that Russia was involved in the activities of other associations, such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the post-Soviet integration associations, the G20 and the UN.

The minister stressed that the G20 was more important for Russia than the G8 framework. "If we take global economy, global politics or financial policies, the core issues are tackled at the G20, which includes all G7 members and all BRICS members. Our positions in the G20 are determined by those approaches that are coordinated in the BRICS association," he explained, adding that Russia did not shy away from contacts with the G7 member-countries.

On Sunday, a European diplomatic source informed TASS that the G7 leaders discussed in detail relations with Russia at the Biarritz summit but failed to reach an agreement on reviving the G8 framework. According to the source, the G7 is now interested in Russia's return to the club because of the escalating competition with the G20 where Russia plays an important role.

On August 20, US President Donald Trump said it would be "more appropriate" to return to the G8 framework, which would include Russia. On August 22, a European diplomatic source told TASS that the EU was opposed to Russia's return until the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
Russia to focus on problems in Africa during UN Security Council's presidency — Lavrov (Россия сосредоточится на проблемах в Африке во время председательства в Совете Безопасности ООН - Лавров) / Russia, August, 2019
Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov, quotation

According to the Russian top diplomat, any UNSC reform should have as its main task the increase of the organization's representation from Asia, Latin America and Africa

MOSCOW, August 26. /TASS/. During its presidency in the UN Security Council next month, Russia intends to bring attention of the global organization to the settlement of problems on the African continent, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

"Russia will be presiding in the UN Security Council next month, in September, and one of the key issues on our agenda concerns the assistance to the people of Africa in resolving their problems in regard to crises, conflicts and other situations," Lavrov told a news conference after talks with his Angolan counterpart Manuel Domingos Augusto.

The rotating presidency in the UN Security Council is held by each of the organization's members each month. Russia is taking the rotating chair next month from Poland, which presided over the organization in August.

"We should stress that in regard to such acute issue as the necessity of the UN Security Council's reformation, Russia holds a strong stance of achieving a broad agreement with the priority focus to overcoming the main setback in the current composition of the UN Security Council, which is an under-representation of developing countries," the Russian minister continued.

"Any reformation of the UN Security Council should have as its main task an increase of the organization's representation from Asia, Latin America and, certainly, the African continent," Lavrov said.

Russia's top diplomat also stated that "the cooperation of African states with the BRICS organization [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa] played an important role on the agenda of the present-day international relations."

"We have agreed that we would carry on with the practice, which we started in 2018 by inviting representatives of the leading sub-regional organizations from Africa to the BRICS Summit," Lavrov added.

On October 24, Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi is set to host the inaugural Russia-Africa Summit. The leaders of more than 50 countries of the region were invited for the summit and 35 of them have already confirmed their participation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will co-chair the summit in Sochi. Egypt is presiding over the African Union in 2019.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Formalizing the informal? A perspective on informal waste management in the BRICS through the lens of institutional economics (Формализация неформального? Перспектива неформального управления отходами в БРИКС через призму институциональной экономики) / Brazil, August, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, ecology, research
Source: Highlights

• The BRICS have waste policies, but they are in very different stages and application.

• South Africa and Brazil have an accommodation relation between formal e informal.

• Russia has incompatible goals between formal and informal institutions.

• China has compatible goals between formal and informal institutions.

• India has an informal sphere that is complementing formal policy.


The world population is becoming more urbanized, wealthier but also more wasteful. The resolution of the problem of ever increasing amounts of solid waste is not yet a priority in many developing countries where informal organization has managed to partially tackle the problem. In this article we explore the interface between formal and informal waste management in the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The aim of this article is to comparatively evaluate the main challenges of urban solid waste management for the BRICS from an institutional point of view. Based on a literature review, interviews with experts on the BRICS and a search for relevant legislation and formal institutions, evidence of informal institutions and the informal economy's role following New Institutional Economics was considered. The results indicate that while in Brazil and South Africa there is a state incentive to formalize scavenging for more efficient outcomes, Russia shows a significant blind-spot on the issue, China apparently awaits a technological solution to the problem, and India's cultural, ethnic and caste-based divide of society make recent policies aimed at improving waste pickers' conditions challenging to enforce. This research has shown that it is not as much an issue of enforcement of the (often recent) legislations, but rather one of cultural and informal organizational factors, that play into the issue of continued problems concerning waste management. For achieving waste management policy goals, we suggest a more open multi-stakeholder approach to the inclusion of informal organizations in public waste management.

    Political Events
    Political events in the public life of BRICS
    Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on the sidelines of the Mashuk North Caucasus Youth Forum, Pyatigorsk, August 22, 2019 (Брифинг официального представителя МИД России М.В.Захаровой «на полях» Северо-Кавказского молодежного Форума «Машук», Пятигорск, 22 августа 2019 года) / Russia, August, 2019
    Keywords: mofa, quotation

    The Stavropol Territory's international and interregional ties

    The Stavropol Territory is among Russia's most dynamically growing regions. About 300 mineral deposits and oil and gas fields have been discovered here. The mineral and raw material potential of the region's subsoil is estimated at over $56 billion.

    The Stavropol Territory offers favourable conditions for the agro-industrial complex. When you fly into Mineralnye Vody Airport, vast cultivated fields without a single area of untilled land come into view. Everyone who flies into here should see that. The region has strong tourism and resort businesses, the electric power generating, mining and processing sectors, as well as the transit infrastructure.

    The Stavropol Territory actively participates in implementing the state programme, "Strategy for the Socioeconomic Development of the North Caucasus Federal District until 2025," which outlines the main areas, ways and means of achieving the strategic goals of sustainable development and ensuring national security in the North Caucasus Federal District (NCFD). The document takes into account the current state of these regions, Russia's economy in general and the global economy, their prospects, as well as the results of implementing projects of regional and interregional importance. The main goal is to provide proper conditions for the advanced development of the real sector of the economy and the sustainable socioeconomic development of the regions of the North Caucasus Federal District, including the Stavropol Territory.

    Given the impact of the sanctions, which are illegally imposed on Russia, import substitution has become a key issue, especially in the industrial and agro-industrial sectors of the North Caucasian Federal District's economy. Under the revised version of the Strategy of 2014 for financing the second phase of the programme until 2020, priority is given to projects on import substitution and development and promotion of innovative Russian technologies, domestic products, generating tax revenue and the improvement of labour market conditions.

    Plans have been approved in the Stavropol Territory seeking to facilitate import substitution, and lists of "anchor investment projects" in industry and the agro-industrial complex have been drafted. Significant funds have been allocated from the federal budget, including funding to subsidise interest rates on investment loans. The Stavropol Territory is a leader in import substitution programmes among the NCFD regions. In order to achieve the import substitution goals in this region, a subprogramme entitled "Ensuring the import substitution output until 2020" is also being implemented.

    The industrial enterprises, mainly represented by mechanical engineering, electric power generating, oil and gas production and refining, and the food and chemical industries, lead the region's economy.

    The Stavropol Territory is an agro-industrial region with highly developed agriculture. The volume of agricultural products in 2018 was valued at 188.6 billion roubles.

    The Stavropol Territory's international relations are based on seven cooperation agreements with foreign countries.

    Over the past several years, the region's foreign trade has been showing positive dynamics. As of late 2018, it was over $1.7 billion.

    Industrial and agro-industrial parks with tax benefits and preferences are being created in the Stavropol Territory to attract foreign investment.

    The Stavropol company Monocrystal is a world leader in manufacturing materials and components for the solar energy and LED industries. It is the first and so far only enterprise in the North Caucasian Federal District to establish production facilities abroad, in Guangzhou, China in order to improve product competitiveness.

    Foreign businesses, in particular, Italian businesses, are noticeably present in the Stavropol Territory. Starting in 2011, Italy began organising visits by its delegations to the North Caucasus Federal District each year as part of the "Caucasus Meets Italy" project.

    In 2018, cooperation between the Stavropol Territory and Enel Russia received another boost after an agreement on cooperation in renewable energy sources was signed on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. A wind farm with a capacity of up to 300 MW will be built in the Stavropol Territory

    As one of Russia's largest resort areas (I visited a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it), the Stavropol Territory maintains a leading position in the market of health resort services. More than 836,000 vacationers visited the Caucasian Mineral Waters region in January to July 2019, which is 7.6% more than over the same period last year

    Today, I sw the rebuilt Mineralnye Vody Airport. I was impressed, and I'm really happy for its passengers.

    Modern esorts and hotels are built every year with 13 sites commissioned since early 2019; 22 resort and tourist facilities are under construction.

    In recent years, international festivals, contests and youth forums have been signature events at Caucasian Mineral Waters resort towns. They include the Sail of Fate International Festival of Folk Art based on Mikhail Lermontov's writings, the Crystal Spring Film Festival of popular genres, the Safonov International Young Pianist Contest and White Acacia International Forum of creative unions. The PyroFivePeaks International Pyrotechnic Art Championship and the Hero and Time International Film Festival, which brought in participants from about 20 countries and hundreds of thousands of spectators, were held for the first time here in 2019.

    The Third International Festival "Student Spring of the BRICS and the SCO Countries," which was held in the region's capital in June, was an important international event for the Stavropol Territory. It brought together over 2,500 participants from 23 countries and was designed to improve neighbourly relations and cultural and sociopolitical ties between the youth of the participating countries.

    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's talks with Foreign Minister of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

    On August 27, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with Foreign Minister of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Moscow.

    The two countries' foreign ministers will discuss ways to further promote bilateral cooperation and also coordinate their schedule of upcoming contacts. They will focus on the preparations for the Indian delegation's participation in the fifth Eastern Economic Forum (Vladivostok, September 4–6) and the annual summit. Important thematic sections include trade, investment, military, science and technology cooperation, the use of national currencies for mutual payments and prospective projects in space exploration and energy, especially on the Arctic shelf and the Russian Far East.

    The ministers will exchange views on pressing international problems with an emphasis on cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region as well as within the UN, SCO and RIC. They will also discuss Russia's upcoming BRICS presidency as well as a range of regional matters, including efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear programme, developments in the Persian Gulf area and the situation in Afghanistan.

    World of work
    Social policy, trade unions, actions
    Youth Employment and Future of Work High on the Agenda of WorldSkills 2019 (Занятость молодежи и будущее труда в повестке дня WorldSkills 2019) / Russia, August, 2019
    Keywords: social_issues

    On 26 August 2019 Kazan hosted a round table "Youth employment and the future of work" co-organized by ILO Moscow and the Ministry of labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation on the margins of 45th WorldSkills competition

    KAZAN, RUSSIAN FEDRATION (ILO News) - The roundtable was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, State Duma, Rostrud, FNPR, Labour Institutes of BRICS countries, Moscow State University, WorldSkills Russia, regional labour authorities from Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Republic of Komi, and the Astrakhan Region.

    The ILO was represented by ILO Moscow Director Olga Koulaeva and Sr Employment Specialist Mikhail Pouchkin.

    In her address, Olga Koulaeva discussed the ILO Centenary Declaration and its core idea, the human centered approach. She stressed the contribution of the Russian Federation to the global vision of the future of work, namely the idea of humanization of labour that had been formulated by the Russian costituents. Olga Koulaeva welcomed participation of the social partners and research community, specifically Labour Institutes of BRICS countries, in a broad discussion on challenges met by young people entering labour market in a rapidly changing world of work, and in promotion of lifelong learning as one of main recommendations of the ILO Centenary Declaration, securing people smooth work-to-work transition through the course of their work life.

    As noted by Olga Pavlova, United Russia deputy and member of the State Duma Committee on Labour, Social Policy and Veterans' Affairs, "the growing capacities of the country's production sector are boosting the demand for skilled workers who are fairly hard to find to fill the available vacancies. New jobs and standards cannot develop effectively unless they are backed by the state and large businesses, of course, with support of the relevant legislation", the MP underlined.

    Olga Pavlova spoke about legislation aimed at addressing the labour and youth employment priorities, improving the mechanism for higher workforce mobility, and introducing arrangements to promote employment of disabled persons.

    "WorldSkills is aimed primarily at raising the prestige of blue-collar jobs and promoting vocational education by harmonizing the best practices and occupational standards worldwide by means of arranging and holding craftsmanship competitions. I am convinced that the future lies with high-skilled workers able to take the initiative and boldly implement new technological solutions, invent techniques and do simple mechanical work," Ms. Pavlova said.

    The business program of 45th WorldSkills Kazan 2019 comprised the events commemorating the Centenary of the International Labour Organization.
    Made on