Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for April
The Security Council’s programme for April features three open debates, including a signature event on risks stemming from violations of the agreements regulating the export of weapons and military equipment, its President for April told a Headquarters press conference today.
Vassily Nebenzia (Russian Federation) said the open debate to be held on 10 April will be an opportunity for a broad swathe of States to consider the negative consequences of non-compliance with agreements on export of weapons and military equipment. The meeting will also identify ways to improve mechanisms for controlling such exports. Noting that Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs, will brief during the meeting, he said there is no intention “to focus the discussion on a specific country or regional context”.
The open debate on 24 April — on effective multilateralism through the defence of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations — will be chaired by Sergey Lavrov, his country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, and will focus on how to build a new multipolar world order based on sovereign equality, while maintaining the global balance of power and ensuring the conditions for humanity’s steady advance.
Minister Lavrov will also chair the open debate on the Middle East on 25 April, which will feature Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, as a briefer, he noted. The meeting will focus on the stagnation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict resolution and the escalation of tensions.
Noting that April has three religious holidays, falling on consecutive Fridays — Good Friday on 7 April, Orthodox Good Friday on 14 —April and Eid-al-Fitr on 21 April, Mr. Nebenzia spotlighted other upcoming meetings and briefings, including a briefing on 12 April on the work of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) by Special Representative of the Secretary-General for that country, El Ghassim Wane.
There will also be a briefing on 13 April on Colombia by Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia. Other briefings in April will focus on Yemen, the Great Lakes region, United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).
Further, on 27 April, the Council will hold a combined discussion on both the political and humanitarian files in Syria, featuring briefings by Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths.
Responding to several questions from journalists about his country’s credibility to preside over the Council, he said that “some countries are pretending they can decide at their own will who they want or do not want” as President of Security Council. Citing the rules of procedure, he underlined that the order for the rotation of the presidency is well defined and cannot be changed. His country has always been an honest broker during its presidencies of that body, he said, as compared to former United States Permanent Representatives who trampled on the Council’s rules and procedures.
When asked how the Council will demonstrate solidarity with a large number of its members opposed to his country’s presidency, he said such opinions are a “gesture of despair”. The Russian Federation does not abuse the prerogatives of the presidency, he said, recalling its previous presidency of the Council in July 2018 when he worked with former United States Ambassador Nikki Haley on a Palestine resolution. Further, the Council is not composed only of three members of the Permanent Five [P5] members and a few other countries that might have such thoughts, he added.
To a question about rule 20 of the rules of procedure which provides for the Council President to recuse themselves during the consideration of issues concerning them, he said that the Russian Federation will not recuse itself from discussions concerning Ukraine because the Council also contains three permanent members who are directly involved in that situation. Also recalling that in 2003, the United Kingdom and the United States presided over the Security Council, he said nobody raised the question of their legitimacy or proposed they withdraw from discussing certain issues.
Regarding the comments by the United States Ambassador [Linda Thomas-Greenfield] that she expects the Russian presidency to be professional, but also that she expects the country to be spreading disinformation about Ukraine, he said he agreed with the first part of the sentence while the second part is in the vein of the Western narrative. The Western media and countries are spreading disinformation about children kidnapped in Ukraine and brought to his country, he said, noting that the Russian Federation will be holding an Aria Formula meeting to dispel this narrative.
The Ambassador also fielded questions about Minister Lavrov’s visit and whether he would be meeting United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken. He said any such meeting depends on where Mr. Blinken will be and his ability and willingness to meet. The Russian Federation will not run away from any meeting, he said, and when pressed if his country would request a meeting, he recalled a previous United States Government statement that it is beneath its dignity to meet with Russian officials. While his country will not request a meeting, he noted that it will be willing to meet.
He also responded to several questions in his national capacity, including on the Ukraine conflict, China’s possible role as facilitator and the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Expressing doubts that the upcoming meetings between European leaders and President Xi Jinping of China will lead to meaningful results, he said that the rhetoric and narrative of the former will not allow them to leave Beijing with what they consider tangible results.
As to whether the Black Sea Grain Initiative will continue beyond 18 May, he said that the deal is not working, and there needs to be a breakthrough in the next 60 days. Describing the Initiative as one-sided, he said the second part of the deal is not being implemented and noted that fertilizer from his country on its way to developing countries free of charge was stopped in European ports.
On the arrest of Wall Street Journalist Evan Gershkovich in the Russian Federation, he said, “I am not an investigative body,” adding that Mr. Gershkovich, who was charged with espionage, will be tried in a court in the Russian Federation.
To a question on whether he has nightmares about nuclear war, he said that the narrative that the Russian Federation is threatening the world with nuclear weapons is propaganda. Since he knows his country is not asking for a nuclear war, he said, “I sleep well.”
For the full programme of work, please see: www.un.org/securitycouncil/events/calendar.