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Question: The Taliban said they have invited a number of countries, including Russia, to an event to mark the announcement of the composition of the government. Can you confirm or deny this invitation? What does Russia plan to answer?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: They have publicly indicated that such an invitation will be made. Maybe it has already arrived, while we are talking. We want to support the process of forming a government that will reflect the entire spectrum of Afghan society: the Taliban and other ethnic groups. Not only Pashtuns, but also Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks. Only such an inclusive government can ensure a sustainable transition to a new life for our Afghan neighbors. If this comes up, we will gladly take part in such a ceremony together with other invited countries influencing the situation in Afghanistan.

Question: Is the Russian Foreign Ministry negotiating the return of the US Consulate General to St. Petersburg? It was here both during the reign of Tsar Alexander I and in the USSR, and since 2018 it has been absent.

Foreign Minister Lavrov: You said yourself that the Consulate General is American. It is up to them to decide whether they want to have it here or not. They did not ask to close the consulate in Vladivostok. Nobody forced them to do this, nobody forced them to make such decisions.

Even during the Barack Obama administration, Washington grossly violated diplomatic law by taking away from us five facilities in the United States, including the Consulate General in Seattle and San Francisco. In response, we also took some measures, but we never asked to close the GC, as they did. This was their initiative. I don’t know what caused it.

Bilateral dialogue with regard to diplomatic personnel is going on, but it is not moving anywhere, marking time. We asked them to bring their institutions here in line with the numerical strength of our diplomats in the United States and not to employ hundreds of Russian personnel performing, in fact, diplomatic functions. Parity has now been announced. They stated that they did not have enough hands, therefore they were forced to close the Consulate General and practically freeze all work on issuing visas. This is again an attempt at indecent pressure, to “bargain” for oneself with some unilateral advantages. It’s up to them to decide. We will not beg them to resume the work of the consulate. We have not prohibited the functioning of this diplomatic institution.

Q: Tell us about your favorite school teacher who influenced you the most?

Sergey Lavrov: Physics teacher, Sergey Kuznetsov. It was thanks to his talents and charm that I wanted to enter the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI). At MGIMO (U) I only took exams, because they were a month earlier. He went hiking with us. A charming man, he was our common favorite.

Question: What questions did you like today, which ones surprised you? What should be a good teacher? What are the most important qualities for modern realities?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Everyone is concerned about the process of educating the younger generation. In our era of a huge number of sources of information and misinformation (there are even more of them), the head of a young man is overfilled, objectively, difficulties arise. Sometimes it is difficult without experience and advice to figure it out. I represent in general terms how difficult it is for teachers to withstand and overcome, which is necessary exclusively with facts concerning the history of our country, traditions, ancestors, interests. It is impossible to think of anything else here.

Teachers must be supported in every possible way. If they are provided with a comfortable, dignified life (the process is under way, but it is not completed, this is recognized, among other things, in the pre-election videos), then they themselves will use their talents much more effectively. The head will not be distracted by something else. They know better than others how to work with children. We will support you in every possible way.

Question: What books do you like to read? Not for work, but for yourself.

Foreign Minister Lavrov: I rarely manage to read it for myself. I try to follow contemporary writers (V.O. Pelevin, V.G. Sorokin, D.A. Glukhovsky). Reading contemporaries, I conclude: a decadent mood, “black” art. It has always been inherent in Russian literature to critically analyze what is happening in the country, but A.P. Chekhov made it clearer and more interesting (for me, at least). Having looked through my contemporaries, sometimes I return to the classics.

Question: What qualities of today’s youth do you like?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: We talked a lot about patriotism. These are lofty words. Didn’t want it to be a “shake of air”. In fact, patriotism is simple things. As part of my trips around the country, I meet with young guys, many volunteers are doing a great job, preserving and restoring the memory of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. The search engine movement has acquired not only an all-Russian but also an international character. There are colleagues in foreign, primarily European, countries. We will support this work. I will not give other examples of patriotism, but this is respect for the country, home, ancestors, parents.

Another thing that needs to be encouraged is the ability to think independently. This is fundamentally important, but it is fraught with enormous difficulties that did not exist before. They are associated with an abundance of information, including a huge number of fakes, especially in those very social networks where a large number of our young people like to spend time. There is nothing wrong with that. The main thing is that they can distinguish the truth from the lie, and for this it is necessary, in addition to blogs, to go out into real life, to communicate with peers, representatives of various professions.

Question: Which path will Afghanistan take?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: It is up to the Afghan people themselves to decide. We call on our neighbors to make the process comprehensive, so that all ethnic and political groups in the country are involved in it. The Taliban, who came to power after President Ghani fled, declared that they would form just such a government. We encourage this in every possible way. We hope that it will be so.

Question: A diplomat is always “buttoned up” and keeps himself in control. What do you do when you want to throw out your emotions?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: This is already known to many. It happens that you have to throw out emotions, say some words to yourself. You get used to the fact that the profession is fraught with significant personal discomfort, including in terms of sometimes protracted and not very meaningful negotiations that have to be postponed. You get used to it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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