Leaders and diplomats of more than 20 states, including US State Secretary John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met at an international conference in Paris to build an alliance against Islamists, terrorizing Iraq and Syria. A meeting, hosted by French President Francois Hollande, came as a rare moment of genuine cooperation between Russia the West, squabbling over Ukraine.
Studio guest Sergei Oznobischev, Director of the Institute of Strategic Assessment, and Mikhail Margelov, Russia’s President Special Envoy to Africa and Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Affairs of the Council of Federation, shared their opinions with Radio VR.
We’ve seen a rare unity between Moscow and the West at this conference in Paris. Can this bring the two closer together?
Sergei Oznobischev: Yes. It appeared very quickly that the leaders of the leading states may cooperate and are ready to cooperate when a genuine and a big threat unites them. At the same time, I would say that after a deep crisis there comes a certain renaissance in the security relations. It happened after the Cuban crisis. And it was predicted by some experts and politicians that after the present crisis, which is very deep and can be compared to the Cuban crisis, a kind of renaissance will take place. And I personally await that cooperation may take place in other important fields – in security, in arms control and so on.
Our readiness to work together demonstrates a special role that Russia plays in the present relations, that without Russia’s active participation not a single big regional conflict, let alone the conflicts threatening the world, can be settled in a constructive way.
It seems that if we see cooperation, it can restore the credibility of the Security Council as an institution?
Sergei Oznobischev: The Security Council was not losing its credibility, but was losing its effectiveness, when it appeared that there is a certain, I would say, ideological watershed in our positions and we couldn’t overcome it concerning the Ukrainian issues. But life demonstrates us that there are other much more severe threats, which may unite us. And in this sense, the Security Council will work together. And the other international institutions, for instance, the OSCE, it all of a sudden demonstrated its effectiveness in the Ukrainian crisis and I'm quite sure that the Security Council will demonstrate its doubled effectiveness in the coming months.
Last week we’ve heard about a video released by Al Arabia which is reportedly filmed in a seized airport in the Syrian province of Raqqa, and which reportedly sent a threatening message to Vladimir Putin vowing to free Chechnya and all of the Caucasus. What has been Russia’s reaction to this particular video? And how will Russia cooperate with the rest of the world in the fight against the IS?
Mikhail Margelov: For the Russian Federation the threat of international terrorism has been a real threat since, I guess, 1999 when houses exploded in Moscow, when there was an attack of international terrorism against Dagestan. And Russia was strongly criticized by our Western partners during the so-called second Chechen war, which we normally call the antiterrorist operation. But then, 9\11 came and it has become clear that what Russia was talking about long ago was not a theory, it was a real threat and that was a real war against the civilized world.
So, I think that today, when we hear threats from different terrorist groups, when we hear that Russia will be attacked again in the Caucasus or elsewhere, we are not surprised, because we stand firmly in the same trench with all the others who are fighting against the international terrorism, and we do not make a secret of that. We will never find a common ground with those who fight against the civilization.
So, Russia is ready to face the threats. Russia is ready to face the challenges and we are seeking for more international cooperation. We think that it is high time to stop arguing and quarreling on the matters with divide us and it is time to find common ground on the real problems which may unite us.
The threat of radical Islam today is similar to the threat of Nazism of the 1930’es and it is time to unite. We all remember how deep the contradictions were, how deep the misunderstanding was between the USSR, the UK, the US, France even in 1939. But then, in 1941, when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, we all became united under one banner of antifascist coalition. So, it is time to think about history.
Russia said that it would support the UN Security Council resolution, but what would the conditions be?
Mikhail Margelov: I'm not a member of the delegation anymore, but it is quite obvious that we would not be arguing on small matters and details. We have to have a binding document, some kind of a roadmap of united efforts for the civilization against the international terrorism.