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Russia keen on improving GCC ties

International conference on Syria best way to end civil war

Gulf News

Manama: Russia is keenly interested in reinforcing coordination with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states on regional and international issues of interest to both parties and within the framework of the Russia-GCC Strategic Dialogue, the Russian ambassador to Bahrain has said.

“This includes the annual meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the GCC member states and the GCC Secretary General,” Victor Smirnov said. “We underline the importance of relevant work in the form of regular political consultations of senior officials of the member states,” he told Gulf News.

Referring to the situation in Bahrain, the diplomat said that Russia was convinced that solutions of the acute problems for the Bahraini society could be found at the table of negotiations and with political will, thus to reduce tension and eliminate reasons that caused political disagreement in Bahrain.

“We welcome the initiative of King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to arrange the national dialogue and consider it as a call for the resumption of the national reconciliation process. The demonstration of such a constructive approach and the progressive movement towards each other gives, in our opinion, a good chance to achieve stable development of this country with full observance of human rights and freedoms and avoidance of dangerous polarisation of the society.”

The ambassador said that the conference brokered by Russia and the US to bring the various sides in the Syrian conflict to the negotiating table was the most significant way to end the civil war.

“By confirming our commitment to a negotiated solution, we consider the international conference on Syria as the most important means to stop bloodshed,” Victor Smirnov said. “It will be critical in overcoming the humanitarian crisis in Syria, in coordinating approaches to the problem of chemical weapons safety and in preventing further regional destabilisation,” he said ahead of Russia’s National Day celebrations.

Russia and the United States last month said that they would work on bringing together Syrian government officials and rebels at an international conference in Geneva to seek an end to the civil war.

“The purposes of developing the Geneva process aims at making the Syrians agree, without outside interference, on a common vision of the future of their homeland,” Smirnov said.

According to the diplomat, Russia “is sincerely interested in the welfare of the Syrian people and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state.”

However, he added that “taking care of interests of the Syrian people requires stopping violence as soon as possible without any preconditions.”

“Continuing the armed conflict in the country is fraught with disastrous consequences for both Syria and the region. We hope that all constructive parties inside and outside Syria including the government and the opposition will maintain a distinct course to a political settlement,” he said.

However, Smirnov insisted that the dramatic events unfolding in Syria or any other development in the region should not overshadow the need to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“Russia is committed to finding a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to this conflict using the recognised principles and provisions of the international legal framework,” he said.

“The Russian Federation calls for the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a generally recognised international legal basis. This includes the Arab Peace Initiative aiming at establishing an independent, sovereign, viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state on the basis of the June 4, 1967 borders, with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital, achieving a two-state solution with the two states living side by side in peace and security,” he said.

In comments on Russia’s general approach to the “Arab spring”, Smirnov said that Moscow supported “the legitimate aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East for a better life, broad political and socio-economic reforms, and sustainable democratic development taking into consideration the historical and civilisation features.”

However, he said that Russia rejected the use of violence for the sake of political goals and stressed the significance of “total commitment to the rule of international law and principles of the UN Charter.”