President Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr General Secretary, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all I would like to thank you for today’s meeting. It is extremely pleasing for me to meet you once more, dear Mr General Secretary. And it is a great honour and privilege for me to have the opportunity today in such a representative group to set forth the position of the Russian Federation on the development of relations with the League of Arab States, and with the Arab world in general. It is even a little unexpected for me, and all the more pleasant. Thank you very much.
We see the League of Arab States as the key, main organisation in the Arab world. I must tell you that I had very interesting and open talks with the Egyptian leadership. And I would like to repeat one of the theses that was mentioned there.
Several years ago, we globally overcome the very serious problem of world division by ideological principles. And today we do not have the right to divide the world once more, this time by religious principles, or by considerations of civilisation. And in this sense we believe that the work of the League of Arab States and our cooperation with the League of Arab States is extremely important.
We follow the work of your organisation very attentively, and we were interested in Mr Mubarak’s speech at the Algerian summit of the League of Arab State, and also the results of the conference held as part of the realisation of the Alexandrian declaration.
We share the viewpoint that reform in the Arab world, and the move towards democratisation should be carried out taking into account historical traditions, and also in keeping with the unique cultural and religious nature of countries in the region. Strengthening institutions of civil society and developing a multi-party system should proceed through dialogue in the framework of improving national legislations without interference from the outside. Otherwise this will be nothing but an attempt to attain certain one-sided advantages in international affairs.
We are satisfied with the consistent and constructive dialogue with the League, and intend to realise an according memorandum on interaction between the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States and the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation. We intend to support dialogue at the highest level. At the beginning of the 1990s, an office of the League of Arab States was opened in Moscow. It is pleasing that our mutual contacts have become regular.
Taking this into account, and also to strengthen the bilateral channel of communications between Moscow and the League of Arab States, we propose to examine the issue of accrediting our ambassador in Cairo as a representative of Russia at the League of Arab States. I would ask you, dear Mr General Secretary and all the colleagues who have gathered in this hall to think about this and make appropriate decisions, and inform us by diplomatic channels.
We highly value the role of the League of Arab States in regulation in the Middle East and agree that today positive prerequisites have been created to break the deadlock for the peace process in the region. The most important thing is to support the constructive mood to stop armed confrontations and to resume talks. We support the agreements reached at Sharm-al-Sheikh.
At the same time, we have always said, and I stress this once again: we believe that the Middle East process must be reinforced by a solution to the problems of Syria and Lebanon, without which it will be impossible to reach universal and firm regulation. In connection with this, I would like to point out that [Syrian] President Bashar Asad is fulfilling the agreements reached to withdraw his troops from Lebanon. We know that this is accompanied by difficult processes in Lebanon itself, and in Syrian society. And this is why we need to send a signal of support to the Syrian President and express our understanding of what he is doing in the framework of Syrian-Lebanon relations, and to support him.
I am certain that a recovery of the situation in the Middle East will also help regulation in Iraq. Mr General Secretary has already noted this. Russia is interested in the Iraqi people overcoming difficulties as soon as possible and establishing a peaceful, stable life. The path towards this involves achieving national reconciliation, agreement in Iraq, strengthening of the national army and law-enforcement structures, and a solution to the terms and conditions of the withdrawal of foreign troops from the Iraqi territory.
At the same time, the important of reaching a solution on creating a mechanism of a collective diplomatic accompaniment to the processes of Iraqi regulation is growing. Today, when Mr General Secretary met me in his office, he showed me an enormous map of the Arab world, and said that they were neighbours with Russia. And this is indeed the case. And Russia, as a good neighbour, intends to build relations with the Arab world in all areas of our cooperation, and will do this consistently and persistently as a friend. We built relations with the Arab world in this way for many decades, and do not intend to change any positive traditions and tendencies. On the contrary, we will only strengthen these positive tendencies.