RIA Novosti, Russia
Feb 2, 2005

LAVROV PUZZLED BY U.S. ASSERTIONS THAT RUSSIA'S ENGAGEMENT IN
SETTLING CIS CONFLICTS IS NOT INTENSIVE ENOUGH


BAKU, February 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov said he had not heard of a U.S. State Department official's
statement that Russia had not paid much attention to settling
conflicts in the post-Soviet space.

Mr. Lavrov was pressed for comments on U.S. Undersecretary of State
Elizabeth Jones' statement at a press conference in Baku.

"I have not heard of this statement," said the minister.

"But I do find it strange as being a facilitating party, Russia is
engaged in the settlement of practically all conflicts in the
post-Soviet space," said Mr. Lavrov.

Mr. Lavrov recalled that Russia, along with the United States and
France, was a co-sponsor of the settlement process (between
Azerbaijan and Armenia) over Nagorny Karabakh.

"Over the past 2-3 months Russia has been working intensively within
the (OSCE) Minsk Group along with the U.S. and France, and we will
hopefully achieve considerable progress soon," said the minister.

Mr. Lavrov also pointed to Russia's intense efforts to settle
conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transdniestria (the
self-proclaimed republics on Georgian and Moldovan territories
respectively). Mr. Lavrov said the parties to the conflicts would
fulfill their obligations and thereby they would hopefully stabilize
the situation there.

Speaking about settlement efforts in Transdniestria, Mr. Lavrov said
Russia had made a greater contribution to the settlement process than
the other parties involved. Mr. Lavrov believes a memorandum and the
stability pact proposed by Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin will
produce a positive result if signed by the parties to the conflict.
Mr. Lavrov believes this is "the only appropriate way to settle the
conflict."