Despite the deterioration of the Russian-Western relations following the Ukraine crisis and the intensification of the European-American-Russian clash, Russia continues to put forth a “constructive global agenda” that includes the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Russians will set consultations regarding Syria, to be held in Moscow, as a key item on the agenda at the end of this month.
Amid the inevitable prolonged Syrian conflict and the spread of terrorism in the region, Lebanon remains in the eye of the storm.
In this context, the Russian ambassador in Beirut, Alexander Saspkin, told As-Safir, “We support the actions taken by the Lebanese authorities to preserve Lebanon from the tide of terrorism. We also appreciate the position taken by the government, the army and the security services. We fully support the current dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement so as to further strengthen the cohesion of the Lebanese society.”
Saspkin said, “The immunization of Lebanese politics requires the election of a president of the republic, and this dossier should be addressed by finding common grounds among the Lebanese. This, in turn, requires the development of a Christian dialogue.”
Russian-American differences do not seem to affect the situation in Lebanon. “International parties are interested in stability in Lebanon for various reasons, but the result is definitely good because the international climate toward Lebanon gives a strategic dimension to the task of providing security, which is achieved by the Lebanese authorities.”
Moscow consultative conference
The Russian movement concerning the Syrian consultations to be held by Moscow at the end of the month is receiving a great deal of speculation, comments and expectations, which, according to the Russian ambassador are “inaccurate.”
Saspkin said, in his interview with As-Safir, “Russia does not view Moscow’s consultative conference as a kind of formal negotiations regarding the ultimate solution to the Syrian crisis. It actually puts it under the category of an exchange of views aimed at leaving a wider margin of freedom for the people taking part in the assembly, especially the opposition, which is represented without competition or formal restrictions.”
Based on this conviction, Moscow made sure to send personal invitations, Saspkin said, “but the representatives of political parties or political forces will be free to speak on behalf of their organizations and not in a personal capacity.”
Moscow was eager to hold a dialogue that is “objective and that, unlike previous meetings, will lead to more than just statements,” he said.
Thus, the main target of the consultations, he said, “is to build confidence, knowing that this conference will not be the last, as it will mark the start of multiple meetings as part of the political process that began in Geneva. The conference will not be a substitute for the Geneva political process. Russia is fully aware that Geneva has a regional and international dimension.
Saspkin said, “All Russia wants is to achieve concrete results, such as alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people and bringing about peace in the country. Achieving these goals requires more efforts on the part of all the concerned parties. It is very essential to take advantage of the opportunity to conduct a dialogue in Moscow.”
“We want to unify the ranks of the [Syrian] patriots to save Syria and stop the terrorists who seek to seize power and continue to unlimitedly expand in the region,” he added.
Assad’s acceptance is premature
Concerning the emergence of an evolution in the Turkish and American positions toward the Syrian regime, the Russian ambassador said, “An international conviction is emerging whereby the attempts to overthrow the regime have failed and that logically the new situation imposes a change in the attitudes of those who were using force. However, this has only taken place through cosmetic aspects. In this context, it should be noted that improving the situation in the Middle East, especially putting an end to the wave of terrorism, requires cooperation among all the concerned countries and, most importantly, coordination with Syria.”
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