Mr Putin expressed his support for the two speakers’ initiative to engage in dialogue between the Russian Parliament and US Congress on looking for solutions to the Syrian crisis.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Matviyenko, Mr Naryshkin,
It is a great pleasure to meet with you just before the start of the Federal Assembly’s autumn session. Much work was accomplished during the first half of the year. I know that the Government has prepared a large package of draft laws and I am sure that you will all work just as hard during the second half of the year. I hope very much that you will work constructively with the Government, and I too am always at your disposal.
There are certainly a lot of issues to address, and it usually happens that the pile of work only tends to grow as the year heads to a close, but I hope that the Federal Assembly will work at a steady pace and keep on top of things.
Of course, debate always arises over all the key development issues, but I hope that as in past years and the first half of this year, we will always manage to work out compromises that enable us to keep moving forward, develop the economy and strengthen our social sector.
Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko: We have excellent cooperation with the State Duma. Our work schedule for the autumn session is very busy but we are ready for it.
Mr Naryshkin and I decided to come to consult with you today. As you know, the Federation Council members and State Duma deputies are very concerned about the situation in Syria. We fully agree with your position that there should not be any armed intervention without UN approval, without a UN resolution and without proper grounds. We cannot accept violation of international law. Given that the President of the United States has declared that he will seek Congressional approval for a military strike against Syria, we think that we should get our parliament more actively involved in this matter too.
We want to use our parliamentary channels to address the senators. We have good contacts that we try to maintain no matter what the situation because we believe that we need to try to reach understanding through dialogue. We think it very important to work through our parliamentary channels, work with Congress in general to get a dialogue underway with our partners as long as the executive branch of power wants us to be able to set out our arguments and talk with each other so that we can understand each other better.
We don’t want confrontation. We want greater understanding between the members of our parliaments, the people who ultimately represent the interests of their people.
We see the reactions around the world today. There have been demonstrations and protests in many countries, including the United States. Public opinion surveys show that the vast majority of people oppose outside intervention in a sovereign country’s affairs.
I think that if we succeed in establishing dialogue with our partners in Congress, exchange views and set out our arguments, maybe we will start understanding each other better. We hope the US Congress will take a balanced approach and will not support the proposal to take military action against Syria in the absence of solid arguments, and so far, we have not seen any solid arguments, only general talk.
If you support us, we are ready to start on this work right away, send a delegation there, invite the senators to Russia, get an active dialogue going. I think this would be timely and could help us reach a better understanding.
State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin: Mr President, last week, we addressed members of other countries’ parliaments via the media, asking them to reflect very carefully and consider very seriously the situation unfolding in Syria. This was a useful step. The parliaments in a number of Western European countries have adopted a very healthy and balanced position.
I think that this kind of work with members of the US Congress could also be useful.
Vladimir Putin: I’m not sure how exactly I can help, but I think the initiative itself is very timely and correct.
It is true that the best way to better understand each other is to have a frank and open dialogue, discuss the arguments openly and set out your views. I think your American colleagues would get a better sense of just what Russia’s position is based on, and would hear the arguments we are making. Of course, it would also be useful to listen to our American partners. This kind of dialogue between parliaments would definitely help to develop our bilateral relations in general.
I will therefore do everything I can to support you in this initiative.
Valentina Matviyenko: We want to ask the Foreign Ministry to give us the needed support. We will put together a combined Federal Assembly delegation and organise the visit over the next few days, seeing as Congress resumes its work on September 9. We hope that our colleagues there will receive our initiative with understanding. It is always better to have dialogue than not to have it.
Vladimir Putin: I will discuss it with the Foreign Minister.
Valentina Matviyenko: Thank you.