25 May 2017
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

13.02.2017

Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov’s interview with Izvestia newspaper, published on February 13, 2017

Question: In 2016, a wave of terror attacks swept across Europe and the US. This year also started with attacks in Europe, and terrorism is still an issue for everyone, Russia included. Vladimir Putin has said on numerous occasions that we can overcome terrorism only by working together. When will the West understand that in order to overcome this common scourge what the world needs is to form a broad coalition?

Oleg Syromolotov: You are absolutely right: in order to fight international terrorism the world does need a broad coalition that would be guided in its actions by the UN Charter, international law and UN Security Council resolutions. Destroying ISIS is a priority as far as counter-terrorist efforts are concerned. Everyone understands that. However, countries tend to adopt different approaches to achieving this aim due to their differences, primarily disagreements on political matters. Some go as far as supporting various kinds of terrorist groups, thinking that they will be able to control them, which is a huge mistake. As a result, they tend to fall into the same trap over and over again.

We hope that with Donald Trump as the new president of the United States and the new administration, the West will change its approaches to counter-terrorism efforts. Maybe they will finally understand that this fight should be free from any double standards or hidden agendas, and that the legitimate government of a country where the counter-terrorist operation takes place cannot be excluded from relations with foreign powers.

Let me give you one example. A coordinated effort to fight radical ideology without any compromises and in full compliance with international law and UN resolutions could serve as a foundation for uniting the broad coalition. In autumn 2016, Russia submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council aimed at countering the spread of terrorist ideology, justification and instigation of terrorist activity, including through the internet. Unfortunately, our Western partners have been quite restrained in their response to our initiative, to say the least. I think that common sense and the self-preservation instinct could compel them to be more open and constructive in cooperating with Russia.

To give you an example, I can refer to my February 8 meeting in Moscow with Deputy Secretary General at the European External Action Service Pedro Serrano to discuss international counter-terrorist cooperation.

During the talks, we discussed opportunities for expanding counter-terrorist cooperation in multilateral formats, primarily within the UN, reaffirming the need for the international community to work together in fighting the global threat of terrorism, while being guided in its efforts by international law, the UN Charter and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We agreed to hold the next round of talks in Brussels.

Question: Are there any differences in the approaches to fighting terrorism adopted by Moscow and Washington? Isn’t it one of the reasons why the two countries have so far been unable to fully cooperate on this issue?

Oleg Syromolotov: As strange as it may seem, but despite the extreme terrorist threat, until recently Western countries led by the US did not even think about giving up on the double standards in their fight against terrorism, thereby undermining the tenets of international counter-terrorist cooperation and helping terrorist forces strengthen their positions.

In fact, they have been following the same scenario time and again, and were consistent and cynical in doing so. They try to consolidate their global dominance by nurturing various radical forces and pitting them against unwanted regimes. They are willing to act in bad faith and violate all agreements for a single purpose: to stir up trouble and use the crisis situation to their benefit. This short-sighted policy is lamentable, and so are its consequences, including for Western countries and their citizens. It is not that easy to put the genie back in the bottle. Just look at all the issues Europeans are now facing after certain European countries carried out geopolitical experiments in the Middle East and North Africa.

Nevertheless and despite the existing differences, Russia and the US are still natural partners in fighting terrorism. Both countries should be interested in developing and strengthening this partnership. Russia hopes to be able to establish a more meaningful dialogue in this area with Washington under the new administration. That said, there is still a lot to be done in order for both sides to begin moving towards strengthening international counter-terrorist solidarity and to stop making a political issue out of efforts to combat the global scourge of terrorism. By the way, the double standards adopted by the US are to blame for the lack of momentum in the creation as per the initiative of the Russian president of a broad counter-terrorist front under UN auspices and based on international law, with a contribution from all countries to the best of their ability and subject to agreement of the country where the counter-terrorist efforts take place.

We assume that against the backdrop of rampant terrorism it is our duty to put political differences aside and finally try to cooperate in fighting terrorism in an honest and open manner.




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