Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov scolds the European Union for ‘Russophobia’

Source:  press conference in Baku, Azerbaijan

June 24, 2022

FULL Q&A

Question: Ukraine and Moldova are now official candidates for EU membership. Charles Michel said this was a historic moment. Do you think this EU step has practical implications? Or is it just an expression of spite against Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: We have always proceeded from the premise that the EU is not a military-political bloc. Unlike NATO, its relations with any willing country do not create any threat or risk for us. President Putin reiterated this in his remarks at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

However, we are fully aware of the fact that the EU has gone through a rapid evolution, not to say mimicry, over the past several years and has taken on an aggressive ideology-driven, primarily Russophobic, undertone. Whenever they strictly lecture countries that are either candidates for EU membership or are striving to become candidates, the EU leaders mince no words saying that a candidate country has no choice but to support every EU policy in the international arena, including its every action against the Russian Federation (this is almost verbatim). This is how EU officials express their demands, in particular, to Serbia. That country is an EU candidate, but like every other country, it is strongly against losing its independence and supporting decisions that flatly contradict its fundamental interests, in this case, its relations with Russia. Our country was one of the few countries that stood with Yugoslavia when NATO perpetrated its aggression against Yugoslavia in flagrant violation of every OSCE principle. This was the first time OSCE countries attacked and bombed another OSCE member, including its civilian infrastructure. Bridges, passenger trains, a television centre and other civilian sites were targeted. Serbia does not want to forget the fact that Russia stood up for it back then. It is necessary to, at least, show some respect for the Serbian people and their historical memory. I’m not even talking about earlier history, like WWII and other milestone events in our common history.

The EU’s brazen and wanton requirement is that if a country wants to be an EU candidate it must maintain a Russophobic position all the way to membership. The EU makes it clear that it does not want to see any unifying trend in Europe, is not complying and is not going to comply with the existing agreements between the Russian Federation and the EU on moving toward common spaces in the economy, research and education, and domestic security, and is unwilling to pursue lofty goals like creating a common space from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, to name a few. All of that is history. Let’s be realistic about the EU’s actions and track its actual steps and see how the candidate countries comply with these requirements or try to show their independence.

We have few illusions that the EU’s current Russophobic charge will dissipate or change any time soon or even in the long run. The path that the Europeans have adopted is reminiscent of World War II’s early days. Hitler put together a large number, if not most, of the European countries to attack the Soviet Union. Right now, in a similar way, the EU and NATO, among others, are putting together a coalition to oppose, or by and large, “wage war” against the Russian Federation.

We will track this situation closely.