Russia supports Palestinian statehood, offers plan for Syria - Lavrov
Jessica Jordan: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in New York to attend the general debate at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. Late in the night, Lavrov met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and discussed their positions on Libya, Syria and Palestine. Voice of Russia’s correspondent Elizabeth Isakova reports:
Elizabeth Isakova: The Russian Foreign Minister came to the US late on Monday to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. They spent almost four hours discussing situation in the Middle East, the future of the Palestinian state and tensions in Syria. The outcome of this meeting was rather predictable. As we know the US want Russia to toughen its stance on Syria and condemn the use of violence against opposition members. The Russian minister, in his turn, spoke in favour of preparing the intra-Syrian dialogue. Earlier President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia was ready to vote for the UN Security Council resolution if it addressed both parties of the conflict. And it was repeated today by Sergei Lavrov:
“We are not only ready to support the resolution on Syria, we have our own draft, which was distributed among the members of the UN Security Council several weeks ago. This document focuses on stopping any kind of violence, coming from both the authorities and those armed individuals in the protests. The second goal of the resolution is to finally bring the parties to negotiations in order to start discussing the future of Syria, those reforms that President Assad has suggested, though later than he should have, as well as to agree on conducting parliamentary elections that would be free, fair and meet all democratic standards. This resolution is still on the table. And so we are actively supporting the mediating efforts by the Arab League, including its Secretary General, who has recently visited Damascus and President Assad. They have concrete plans, which will soon be reported to all members of the Arab League. I believe this is the responsible way to resolve the situation and nobody needs repeating of the Libyan scenario.”
This approach was, in fact, outing the draft resolution that Russia circulated in the UN Security Council. In the draft, Russia strongly encouraged all parties to cease any violence and to start a dialogue at negotiations table. This approach is linked to the reforms that are actually being carried out by the Syrian leadership, said Sergei Lavrov. This also includes a timetable for developing a new constitution and preparation of general elections in Syria. We consider that boycotting the invitation to a dialogue is a dangerous path, which presents a risk of repetition of the Libyan scenario, which neither Russia, not the US wants, said Lavrov. Russian Foreign Minister added that Russia has already sent an official message to President Assad, encouraging him to start a dialogue and continue with the reforms, Followed by this message, the Russian delegation spent three days in Syria to collect most comprehensive and reliable information on the state of affairs in that country. Politicians met with President Bashar Assad and opposition members. These conversations formed a general impression that, in Syria, a dialogue and consensus are possible and peaceful prospects are more than real. The new point that has to be considered is the involvement of great powers. A constructive initiative worked out by great powers within the United Nations will provide Syria with more democratic development opportunities, while any resolutions that may be passed by the UN Security Council unilaterally, condemning Syria, imposing sanctions or stipulating foreign interference, will definitely result in the worst-case Libyan scenario. And that is not acceptable. Sergei Lavrov also touched upon the situation around the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations. In this case, Russia’s stance on the issue has been manifested itself on different levels. Moscow more than 30 years ago recognized the sovereignty of the Palestinian state and the embassy of the state of Palestine has been open in Moscow for 20 years. Thus, Moscow sees no problems with regard to the recognition of the Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly. According to the inside information of the Voice of Russia, for the US, Russian opposition to this matter was the main obstacle for the meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. As it was stated today by Sergei Lavrov, the statement of the Quarter meeting was proposed by the Russian Federation to the UN and EU in July, but the US refused to support the document. The same problem occurred this time as well, so there is no chance that the Quarter of International Mediators will meet in New York, said Lavrov. At the same time, Moscow remains the principal supporter of political and diplomatic solutions of the Palestinian problem and thinks that the UN bid is not an alternative to peace negotiations with Israel. The Palestinians have a similar attitude to this position, which is why Russia considers it unacceptable to deprive the Palestinians of their right to bid at the General Assembly, said Sergei Lavrov. I can only add that the Palestinians consider their bid to be supported by at least 140 courtiers. Anyway, we have to wait till this Friday to know the outcome of this move. On September 23, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will apply to the UN Security Council for full UN membership of a Palestinian state.