By CHRIS GRAEME
RUSSIAN FOREIGN minister Sergey Lavrov said that creating “artificial obstacles” was not the way to solve common security issues in Europe.
The Russian foreign minister was referring to the United State’s insistence that an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe was only defensively directed at possible attacks from Russia’s ally Iran.
Speaking in Lisbon on Tuesday with Portuguese counterpart Luís Amado, Sergey Lavrov once again reiterated Russia’s point of view that the United States Anti-Missile Defence Shield in Poland and a radar tracking system in the Czech Republic was not going to improve relations between the United States, Europe and Russia.
He also said that he did not believe that Iran’s relationship with the West bore any relation with the reason why America and her allies were planting the system on European soil.
“This system is upsetting the balance of European security and not improving relations between our countries,” he said.
He did, however, add that Russian President Dimitry Medvedev might accept a “compromise or find a solution” over the US missile shield.
Two weeks ago Medvedev had rattled sabres by suggesting stationing short-range missiles in its Western naval port province of Kaliningrad, formerly Konigsburg in what used to be German East Prussia.
The issue was mentioned again on Tuesday by Segey Lavrov, who repeated the Russian President’s words despite the fact that the United States insists that the shield is incapable of threatening Russia and is designed solely to protect NATO against missile attacks from rogue states.
In a tense and cold press conference in which there were no smiles and no warm handshakes the Russian minister attacked NATO states and their allies for “breaking promises not to enlarge NATO – meaning Georgia – and stressed that Russia didn’t “want missiles in Europe and that Europe should also refuse them.”
Sergei Lavrov added that “unilateral decisions should be avoided” and suggested that all OSCE, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, member countries in Europe should organize a meeting and analyse a security solution in Europe for all parties including Russia.”
He said that discussions and plans on a common security treaty so far had “not been confirmed”, “not been agreed” and that “mechanisms had not been explained”.
Other issues discussed briefly where trade links between Russia and Portugal, the situation of illegal Russian immigrants in Portugal and the voluntary repatriation programme, and the sudden termination of contracts to lease out Russian fire-fighting planes to Portugal, which needed “to be discussed and resolved”.
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