This is an interesting speech and we have obtained it and put the full text below:
Lecture of the Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov
“Russia and the modern Middle East”
(Israel Council on Foreign Relations, Jerusalem, March 6)
I would like to thank the hosts for an opportunity to participate in this event. In my address, I will try to present the Russian view on some recent developments in the world and in the region.
Contemporary international relations are undergoing profound structural changes. The polycentric system replaces the unipolar world. New centers of clout are strengthening, while the traditional powers are becoming less capable of dominating the world politics and economy.
Amid the existing realities, some Western states spare no effort to maintain their positions. While imposing unilateral agenda, they resort to deterrence of those who disagree, try to destabilize other countries and even take down “objectionable regimes”. However, it is becoming more difficult to act in such a way in the world, where every state wants its interests to be respected. For this reason, some countries start circumventing the universal norms and institutes, like the UN and its Charter. There are attempts to replace the international law with some “rule-based order”.
The glaring example of disregard for the international law and aggressive imposition of its own views is the coup d’etat in Ukraine, which was carried out five years ago with open support of the well-known overseas and European countries. Today Ukraine is falling further into the abyss of political chaos, corruption, legal disorder, rampage of aggressive nationalism, radicalism, and neo-Nazism.
Nowadays the public attention is focused on the situation in Venezuela. The legitimate government of this South American country receives threats of military intervention, which is uncovered interference into domestic affairs of a sovereign state and a grave violation of the international law. Incitement and destructive external influence, besides, under the hypocritical pretext of providing humanitarian aid, have nothing in common with democratic process.
Testing methods of “geopolitical engineering” and imposing alien models of development and values on nations in the Middle East, including by use of force, have led to grave consequences for the Middle Eastern region. Owing to the irresponsible regime change policy of several countries, vast regional territories have turned into an area of chaos and instability. Iraq and Syria saw unprecedented weakening of statehood. In modern Libya, it is about restoration of the state.
As a result, a surge in international terrorism, which we had not seen before, took place in the Middle East. Extremists of all stripes flocked to the region. Non-Muslims started to face a disastrous situation. Believers and clergy of other confessions were attacked, persecuted and even murdered by terrorists; they became victims of discriminatory laws and had to flee places of their permanent residence.
The state of affairs is aggravated by the old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has not been overcome yet. Without a solution to the Palestinian issue that still spawns extremism, it is hardly possible to talk about stability in the Middle East.
For the last two years we have heard that one country will soon announce its initiative, the so-called “deal of the century”, which would allegedly be better than all previous attempts and lead to peace between the Arabs and Israel. Recently they decided to postpone its announcement once again, this time until a new Israeli government would be formed.
It is rumored that the “deal” may include doubtful proposals contrary to the well-known international legal framework for the Middle East settlement. It seems questionable, whether the Palestinians can accept such initiative.
The situation in the region is complicated by sharp contradictions between Israel and Iran. We have repeated more than once publicly and in our discrete contacts with the Iranian side that we do not accept statements that Israel, as a Zionist entity, should be destroyed. Similarly, we disagree with attempts to regard any regional problem, including the Syrian conflict, through the lenses of fighting Iran.
One cannot issue an ultimatum to Iran or any other full-fledged member of the UN what to do, with whom to maintain relations, and with whom to break. Solutions to problems shall be negotiated on a mutually acceptable basis, taking into account the interests of each other.
Despite the period of hardships that the Middle East is going through there are ongoing attempts to reconfigure the already fragile geopolitical landscape here. The idea of the Middle East Strategic Alliance, which is meant to be created on an anti-Iranian platform, is being imposed on the Gulf States, Egypt, and Jordan.
It is unlikely that attempts to forge “Middle Eastern NATO” will improve the situation – quite the contrary. It will further lead away from long-term stabilization and complicate prospects for settling intractable conflicts existing here.
Russia consistently advocates for overcoming numerous problems of the Middle East through political and diplomatic means as well as the promotion of an inclusive national dialogue in strict compliance with the international law. This is precisely the approach we adhere to regarding the Syrian crisis.
In Syria largely due to our efforts a major defeat was inflicted on terrorists, the process of political settlement was launched; conditions for the return of refugees and IDPs to their homes were created.
As for now, Idlib remains a serious problem. There it is necessary to separate the armed constructive opposition from terrorists who took over 90 percent of the territory in Idlib. A lot of trouble arouse in north-eastern Syria, where the US had settled Kurds on the lands of Arabs, inciting fury of the latter and causing concern of Turkey.
In general, Russia will further contribute to a long-lasting settlement in the Syrian Arab Republic based on the results of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, including establishment of the Constitutional Committee. Within the framework of this body, the Syrians themselves will determine the future of their country.
It is needless to say that Russia will facilitate settlement of other conflicts, including a solution to the decades-old Palestinian problem on the basis of the well-known UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
As a reminder, back in autumn 2016 President Vladimir Putin proposed to host in Moscow an Israeli-Palestinian summit without preconditions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmud Abbas agreed in principal. However, the meeting has not taken place yet. We are certain that direct contacts could help break the current deadlock.
We work hard to help overcome the Palestinian split. On February 11-13, 2019, Moscow hosted the third meeting of senior members of twelve Palestinian parties and movements. For the first time in a while, we managed to bring together representatives of all the main political forces in Palestine and renew the dialogue on the Palestinian unity.
To sum up, I would like to emphasize that the multifaceted Russian-Israeli ties are progressing.
We are pleased that the Israeli leadership and public together with us defend the truth about the Second World War, the decisive role of the Soviet Union and its Red Army in the Victory over Nazism.
During Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow last week the Israeli Prime Minister informed about the plans to erect in Jerusalem a monument to residents and defenders of the Besieged Leningrad. President Vladimir Putin agreed to participate in the opening ceremony of the memorial.
We hope that despite political campaigns and the upcoming elections continuity will be preserved in the development of Russian-Israeli relations, and the cooperation between our countries will increase.
Thank you for your attention!