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    Briefing by Russian Foreign Office spokesperson Maria Zakharova

    Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zakharova Holds Weekly Press Briefing

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    Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the Syrian ceasefire agreement, the cancellation of a Russian observation flight over Turkey, as well as Ukraine-EU Association Agreement during a weekly press briefing in Moscow.

    States must determine their future without outside interference, Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, commenting on the crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

    "Any society has the right to choose their own way," Zakharova said.

    On Syria Ceasefire Deal

    Moscow is surpised over some US authorities' comments on the Russia-US agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Syria between Damascus and the country's armed opposition groups, Zakharova said.

    "Of course, we heard the first reactions from Washington in regard to the joint document [on ceasefire]. Honestly, we didn’t expect that some officials in the United States would interpret this Russian-American agreement in such a diametrically opposite manner."

    She said that "some comments reminded sabotage," however, hopefully, such US authorities' reaction was limited. However, she said that joint work on the truce is ongoing.

    On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced an agreement on cessation of hostilities between the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad and the armed opposition factions had been reached. The agreement will come into force on February 27.

    Military action, including airstrikes conducted by Syria, Russia and the US-led coalition will continue against Daesh, al-Nusra Front, as well as other UN-designated terrorist groups.

    A mechanism has been launched between the United States and Russia on exchanging information on the cessation of hostilities in Syria, Zakharova said.

    "A mechanism has been established to work on the issues outlined in the joint statement. We have started an exchange of information, military contacts are being carried out."

    Zakharova said that Syrian opposition groups must cease hostilities voluntarily. "Nobody will force these groups to participate in the ceasefire," she said.

    Earlier, a part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it will not participate in the ceasefire deal unless al-Nusra Front terrorist group is involved. The FSA is one of the groups labeled a "moderate" opposition faction in the Syrian civil war, which broke out in 2011.

    Moscow believes that Syrian Kurds must participate in the dialogue between Damascus and the opposition, Zakharova said.

    Zakharova reminded that the ceasefire in Syria includes only the Syrian government forces and opposition groups, who agree to participate in the cessation of hostilities.

    "The fight against terrorist groups continues, there should be no speculations."

    The Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman commented on a statement made by US Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who expressed concern over Moscow's cooperation with Syrian Kurds.

    "Why is he not concerned over US' cooperation with them too, we don't understand," Zakharova added.

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova slammed Ankara over a statement made by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who said that the ceasefire in Syria is not obligatory for Turkey if the country feels a threat for its security.

    "Lately, Turkish authorities makes very strange statements concerning its stance on global affairs. Strange and illogical comments [by Turkish authorities] don't seem that illogical, when analyzing some imperial or even neo-Ottoman sentiment," Zakharova said.

    On Open Skies Treaty Flight Over Turkey

    Ankara had no right to cancel Russia's observation flight over Turkey under the Open Skies Treaty, Zakharova said.

    "It seems that Ankara wanted to hide some activity in those regions," Zakharova noted.

    Ankara wanted to shift the blame on the cancellation of Russia's observation flight on Moscow, she said. According to Zakharova, Turkey attempted to blame Russia for the delayed observation flight and pretended that it didn’t intend to deny Moscow this right.

    "I can only imagine what would have been the reaction of NATO officials if Russia had refused to allow carry out observation flights over its border with Ukraine," Zakharova said, commenting on the so-called NATO solidarity concerning Turkey's move.

    "NATO's solidarity sometimes assumes ludicrous forms when the victim is presented as the criminal."

    Russia was scheduled to perform an observation flight on board the An-30B plane over the Turkish territory within the framework of the Open Skies Treaty on February 1-5. However, Ankara did not allow Russian planes to conduct the flight.

    The Open Skies Treaty was signed in March 1992 and became one of the major confidence-building measures in Europe after the Cold War. It entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently has 34 States Parties, including Russia and the majority of the NATO countries.

    The treaty allows participating countries to openly gather information on each other's military forces and activities.

    On EU-Ukraine Association Agreement

    The Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman commented on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the Dutch referendum on the issue.

    She said EU authorities launched a PR-campaign in favor of the deal, misinforming people concerning the issue.

    The Netherlands is the only EU country that has not yet ratified the Ukraine-EU association deal, which establishes a political and economic association between the parties. The government decided to hold a non-binding referendum after over 400,000 people signed a petition to put the matter to a nationwide vote.

    On Accusations of 'Media Propaganda'

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova said that it is hypocritical that while German authorities blame Moscow of "anti-German propaganda," anti-Russian stance of German media outlets is ignored by Berlin.

    In January, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with German Bild newspaper that anti-Russian propaganda in Western media failed to undermine relations between Moscow and Berlin.

    "Our relations are based, most importantly, on mutual sympathy between our people," Putin said, adding that the relations have hardly changed to the worse.

    "In Germany, there is a high influence on media, especially from overseas," Putin added.

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    press briefing, Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, Moscow, Russia
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