The annual address of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and his news conferences have traditionally captured the attention of a broad audience in Russia and abroad.
This is not just because of the characteristically candid nature of the Russian leader’s presentations, but also because of his frank in-depth look into the pressing issues of the national political, economic and social development, as well as the international situation.
This year, President Putin met with parliamentarians on December 3 and Russian and foreign media on December 17. The focus of these meetings was mainly on global affairs and especially on terrorism, which is literally pushing the world into a nightmare scenario.
The seriousness of this issue is reflected in the growing concern that our way of life is going from bad to worse and the flood of terrorists and extremists, if not stemmed, could bring about a disaster of a much larger scale than we have now.
Who could have imagined that many countries in North Africa and the Middle East, which only a short time ago enjoyed stability and steady economic development, and were bustling with tourists and receiving foreign business delegations, could now be plunged into chaos and anarchy that threatens all of humanity? This phenomenon, as it was suggested at the Asian Parliamentary Assembly on December 9 in Phnom Penh, requires comprehensive study.
Russia has actively been fighting terrorism over many years. However, the spreading terrorist contamination that is gaining proportions to the extent that it is threatening other regions of the world prompted Russia to enter the battle against ISIS in Syria.
It was done with the consent and request of the legitimate government of Syria and in accordance with the Russian national legislation, United Nations Charter and basic principles of international law. We are confident that the war on terrorism should be based only on universal legal instruments with the key role of the UN Security Council.
During the high-level meetings at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, many countries, confronted with the prospect of destruction of the regional security architecture and creation of unpredictable extremist state not recognizing international law, state boundaries and contemporary civilization values, displayed their solidarity with Russia.
One of the important goals in this fight is preventing further expansion of the man-hating ideology and practice of extremism that is rapidly acquiring trans-border character primarily by recruiting and indoctrinating fighters from all over the world.
The side effects of the aggressive march forward of terrorists in the Middle East have been developing from a headache of the region to a chronic disease – increasing xenophobia, anti-Islamic sentiment, building of civilised barriers, displacement of Christians, cultivation of discord between Shiites and Sunnis and an unprecedented movement of an overwhelming number of refugees streaming into Europe.
Some voices still argue that the best way to stop terrorism in Syria is to get rid of Bashar Al-Assad. However, should we continue this self-delusion game? Will his resignation decrease the appetite for power of terrorist groups?
And, finally, as President Putin put it, “we will never agree with the idea of a third party, whoever it is, imposing its opinion about who governs who. This is beyond any common sense and international law.
We believe that only Syrians can choose their leaders, establish their government standards and rules”.
Besides, it is a fait accompli that the Syrian army remains the only battle-hardened force that can oppose terrorism on the land and the efficiency of its actions against terroristic threats depends on the preservation of the governmental institutions in that country.
As to a final and long-term settlement of the Syrian crisis, it can be achieved only by eradicating terrorism in Syria that would create all the necessary conditions for stopping the bloody conflict of many years. This is a process that will require compromises on either side.
The Russian representatives are actively engaged in the work of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG). In our view, it is an optimal and highly promising institution and its decisions must be implemented.
The most important thing, at this stage, is the preparation of a list of terrorist groups operating in Syria with Jordan’s leading role and assistance to the efforts by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura and other parties to ensure a wide spectrum of the Syrian opposition develop a negotiating platform and form a representative delegation for talks with the Syrian Government as required by the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012.
In this context, Russia believes that terrorists of all kinds should be excluded from the political process, which must involve the representatives of the patriotic Syrian opposition that displayed a willingness to resolve political issues constructively at the meetings earlier held in Moscow, Cairo, Astana, Al-Hasakan and Damascus.
The recent efforts of Riyadh to facilitate a meeting of the Syrian opposition also contributed to this process.
Russia has repeatedly stated that using double standards in fighting against terrorism is dangerous and every civilized country must contribute to this battle, reaffirming its solidarity, not in word but in deed, which means that the terrorists must not be given refuge anywhere and prosper from the sale of oil they steal in Syria.
With all this in mind, Russia is pushing forward the start of the political settlement in Syria in line with the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012. This, in the words of the Russian President, “will have to be done in any case sooner or later, and better sooner than later because there will be fewer casualties and losses, and there will be fewer threats” to other regions.
To this end, we are looking forward to concrete and practical input towards forming a broad anti-terrorist coalition under the auspices of the United Nations. There is a hope that this time this call will be heard.
Press secretary of the Embassy of Russia