Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to deepen the political dialogue, the commercial relationship, and the elimination of visas.
Interview with Víktor Koronelli, Russian Ambassador
In the prelude to the work tour of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, in Moscow, the Russian ambassador to Mexico, Víktor Koronelli, highlighted in an interview with El Economista that it is a priority for his government to comply with the contract for the supply of 24 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. He also detailed issues on the bilateral agenda.
– How is the distribution and production of the Sputnik V vaccine in the world?
Currently the Russian antigen is already approved in more than 60 countries where more than three billion people live. Apparently, the European dwarf state of San Marino will be the first nation in the world to carry out the total vaccination of its population with Sputnik V. As for Latin America, the shipments of Russian medicine reached Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela and Nicaragua and, of course, Mexico.
One million 100 thousand doses of the 24 million contracted have already arrived in the country. In this regard, I want to emphasize that our priority is to fulfill this contract with the federal government. It is also worth mentioning that the use of Sputnik V was authorized in Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama.
Production of the Sputnik V is carried out not only in Russia but also in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Serbia. There are preliminary agreements to package it in Germany, Italy, and India.
In what position is Mexico to be able to increase the supply of the Sputnik V vaccine?
The volume of the current supply contract is not yet exhausted, but when the need arises for more doses of the Russian vaccine, we hope that the Russian Direct Investment Fund that owns the exclusive rights to export Sputnik V will be ready to discuss with his Mexican counterpart the new shipments.
—With Foreign Minister Ebrard’s visit to Moscow, is it expected to increase the supply of doses to Mexico?
As of today, as I have commented, the supply contract for 24 million doses (to be applied to 12 million people) of the Sputnik V vaccine to Mexico is in force, shipments of which are being made according to the chart of shipments. At the moment we do not have information on the possible increase in these volumes, but we should be aware of the official announcements that will be made once the visit of Secretary Ebrard has concluded. Mexico wants to open a Sputnik V plant. Will the negotiation be finalized with the foreign minister’s visit?
We know that the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has exclusive rights to commercialize this biological abroad, would be willing to carry out the negotiations to set up the production of Sputnik V in Mexico. It is possible that the issue will be raised again during Foreign Minister Ebrard’s visit to Russia but I would not like to make premature speculation.
—In addition to vaccines, what other issues will Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov address with Foreign Minister Ebrard’s visit?
There are many areas where we can work together to strengthen the bilateral relationship.
To list just a few: the activation of political dialogue and coordination of approaches within the framework of the main global forums; the increase in bilateral trade and its liberalization in various fields including steel; updating the legal basis of Russian-Mexican relations. This last point covers several bilateral agreements that are in different stages of negotiation, but the most important thing would be to deal with the issue of abolishing visas for the mutual travel of the citizens of both countries. Undoubtedly, this step would have a tremendously positive effect on all kinds of contacts, from vacation tourism that is so important to the economy of your country to academic and scientific exchanges that have acquired incomparable significance in the time of the pandemic.
– In the geopolitical field, Sputnik V has broken into the world as an element of soft power for the Russian government.
The vaccine market, given the demand, is immense and there will be room for everyone. The difference is the efficacy (that of our vaccine is higher – according to the latest studies it is 97.6%) and the safety of this or that biologic. Indeed, Sputnik V, unlike several of its competitors, does not cause health problems in the patients who applied it. On the other hand, Russia from the beginning did not hoard medical supplies, on the contrary, it reached out to its friends and partners in the most difficult times. We carry out the export of the Sputnik V vaccine to other countries all over the world without having finished the vaccination on a national scale.
– What can you comment on the future space cooperation agreement with Mexico?
We have been negotiating this agreement since 2014 and now the process is in a very advanced state, so I hope we can sign it as soon as possible. Cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes acquires special importance today, since this year we have just celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first manned trip into space, carried out by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, which is eloquent testimony. of the experience accumulated by our country in this area. On the other hand, we see that the Pro Tempore Presidency of Mexico in CELAC is promoting space cooperation as one of its priorities. So it is clear that the interests of both countries, in this case, coincide perfectly.
– How is the visa issue between the two countries?
Signing the agreement for the abolition of visas continues to be one of our priorities.
Currently, the draft of this document is in the Ministry of Foreign Relations, that is, the ball is in the Mexican court. At the same time, it should be noted that very soon Mexican tourists will be able to process their electronic visas to visit Russia, without having to go to the consulate. The new provision would have entered into force as of January 1, 2021, but the process was suspended due to the pandemic. However, we invite our Mexican friends to visit Russia as soon as the sanitary and epidemiological situation allows.