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Putin's UN speech made West reconsider its reaction to developments in Syria — Lavrov

November 19, 2015, 15:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to the Russian foreign minister, the West has realized there's no point in demanding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s stepping down
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© AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

MOSCOW, November 19. /TASS/. Western countries have realized that issuing an ultimatum on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s stepping down, expecting this would settle problems in the country, are futureless, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Russia’s Radio on Thursday.

The top diplomat recalled President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the UN General Assembly and his asking foreign partners if they realized what they had done.

"The answer to the question starts arriving. The reaction to developments in Syria has started changing after the UN General Assembly, after its main part in which heads of state, government and foreign ministers took part," he stated.

He said the changes could be seen in enthusiasm over the idea to hold full-format multilateral talks on Syria.

"Up until recently, our western partners were not willing to create an inclusive circle of external players, but two meetings of the international Syrian Support Group, which represents all neighbours of Syria and all countries that can in one way or another influence the situation, have been held in the recent month," he continued.

He emphasized the fact that the passing of "two documents that are consensual and state the principles Russia has been consistently advancing since the Syrian crisis began, testify to the fact that our western partners have realized hopelessness of the stance many of them adhered to," referring to the ultimatum that Bashar Al-Assad should step down.

Attitude to Syria’s Assad irrelevant for IS terrorists pursuing their own goals 

According to the minister, the attitude of a particular country towards the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad has no importance for the Islamic State terrorist organization.

The Russian Aerospace Force is carrying out its operation in Syria "on the invitation and at the request of Assad" while the US-led coalition "is acting in the Syrian Arab Republic without the invitation of the legitimate government and without the UN Security Council’s mandate," Lavrov said.

"Although the Americans and their NATO partners and other coalition members are acting without the international legal base in Syria, we have said that we’re ready to coordinate our efforts in the interests of the struggle against terrorism and we have offered a sufficiently profound degree of interaction," the Russia foreign minister said.

"The US side has only agreed to an arrangement required to avoid air incidents between our Air Force and the US aviation and has rejected deep coordination," Lavrov said.

The United States kept saying until now that "only after resolving the issue of when specifically, exactly and surely Assad will give up his post, it will be possible to organize coordination in the struggle against the IS," the Russian foreign minister said.

"Assad is called a magnet, which attracts all terrorists. If this logic is followed, then it turns out that not only Assad is a magnet for the IS [terrorist organization outlawed in Russia]. Lebanon, Turkey, France and Egypt have also become magnets for the IS," the Russian foreign minister said.

"But if we recall that France and Turkey always insisted most toughly on the immediate departure of Bashar Assad, then the logic ‘remove Assad and the IS will calm down,’ holds no ground at all," Lavrov said.

"The Islamic State is trying to achieve its goals of creating the so-called caliphate without any relation to what is taking place in Syria and without any relation to who and how treats Bashar Assad," the Russian foreign minister said.

According to the official, the decision of Russia and France on cooperation in Syria indicates that sober-minded politicians realize that it is necessary to put aside minor things and focus on confronting the Islamic State.

"I believe the call of President [Francois] Hollande to President [Vladimir] Putin after the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris, his offer to coordinate our efforts and the president’s response, which expressed willingness to do so on the allied basis, all that indicates that now sensible politicians are leaving aside the minor things and realize there is a need focus on the main priority - to terminate the pretensions of ISIL [former name of IS - TASS] to win bridgeheads on the vast territory around the globe," the minister said.

Right for self-defense must be exercised in fight against IS 

Lavrov noted that any state has the right to apply Article 51 if its nationals are attacked.

"Article 51 [of UN Charter] is the right of self-defense for any country when its citizens are attacked," he explained.

"Even this terrorist act [A321 crash] cannot be considered in isolation. This terrorist attack is a crime in a change of similar awful actions, carried out by terrorists in Lebanon, Egypt, in Paris, Ankara and Baghdad, in other Arab cities. This is without any doubt a real threat to peace and security worldwide," the foreign minister said.

In these situations "the states must exercise the right to self-defense envisaged in the UN Charter," he continued. "And I am confident that in this situation it is absolutely necessary to approve a resolution of the Security Council that would fix a need to act in accordance with Chapter Seven and do all to crash Islamic State, the way we acted in respect to terrorist attacks of September 11 2001," Lavrov continued.

Russia hopes to cooperate with UN Security Council members on anti-terrorist resolution

Russia hopes for effective cooperation with France and other members of the UN Security Council on the text of the anti-terrorist resolution, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

"We continue our efforts not only to search for ways out of the Syrian crisis, which is a primary concern. We are also addressing the issue of anti-terror efforts and pooling efforts of various countries across the globe, including within the framework the Vienna process and at the United Nations, in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group banned in Russia and other organizations, which are international terrorist cells," the diplomat noted.

"As you know, on September 30 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented a draft [anti-terror] resolution to the members of the Security Council. Taking into account the international situation, yesterday the Russian delegation submitted to the Security Council an updated text of the draft resolution. We hope for effective cooperation with both France and other members of the UN Security Council in finalizing and passing the above-mentioned resolution," she said.

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