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Deputy FM Bogdanov: Russia respects the choices of "The Arab Spring"

Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

By The Voice of Russia | 2 Jun 2012

The Ambassadors of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria and Syria, whose countries have been swept by the winds of "The Arab Spring," have been guests of The Ambassadors Club of The Voice of Russia.

Opening the meeting, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that Russia has been watching the Arab upheaval with the full awareness of the fact that the Arab peoples want to see greater political and economic justice in their countries. It is now prepared to build equal and mutually beneficial relations with the 'Arab Spring' nations. It also believes that all internal problems in the Middle East and North African countries must be resolved without outside interference, by way of a peaceful political dialogue.

Tunisian Ambassador Ali Gutali said the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions were driven by purely internal factors:

“For instance, the January 14th Tunisian revolution was the work of educated young men and women who were in touch with the needs, aspirations and feelings of the rest of the Tunisian people. It was not imposed on Tunisia from the outside. It was driven by the people’s desire to destroy the absolute political and economic monopoly held by Tunisia’s ruling party. From the economic side, intolerable income disparity and mass unemployment fanned the flame.”

Egyptian Ambassador Muhamed El-Hadidi admitted that the economic conditions in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions have become even worse. He said, however, that these revolutions have created conditions for the people to start building more just political and economic systems in their countries. He said he believed the people would not waste this historic opportunity. He also gave his opinion on radicalism and minority problems:

“Egypt is experiencing what I would describe as a revolution of aspirations. Its people enjoy freedom of speech and association and the right to express protest and go on strike. Problems remain, and they also involve my Christian compatriots. Together with the rest of the Egyptian people, the Christian minority wants its rights. So do the Nubian Muslims and the Sinai Bedouins. The ousted Egyptian regime ignored minority rights.

As many as 13 candidates competed in the opening round of Egypt’s presidential elections in May. All sought support among minority groups, and some managed to get it. Voters from the minority groups turned out quite massively, in the belief that their votes count. In the end, only fully-fledged democracy will be able to adequately protect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.”

Syrian Ambassador Riyad Haddad said his government and the Syrian people are working together to implement democratic reforms, and the trouble in Syria, including bloodshed, is the result of interference from abroad.

Russian Deputy FM Mikhail Bogdanov said each nation must be allowed to decide its fate on its own:

“This fully applies to Syria. Accusing Russia of siding with the Assad regime is unfair, because it has no foundation in fact. It is Syria policy, Russia sticks to Kofi Annan’s settlement plan, rather than defence of the ruling regime. From the very beginning, it has been the strongest of backers of the Annan plan. The agreement by Syria to accept this plan is largely the result of Russian diplomacy. Late last year, Moscow also persuaded the Syrian government to allow monitors from the Arab League to inspect the situation in Syria.

Russia respects the choices made by the ‘Arab Spring’ nations. With most of them, it has been on friendly terms for a number of decades. It has also built cooperation with them in all spheres. It hopes now that new revolutionary governments are in power in these countries this cooperation can be continued into the future. It also wants this cooperation to be intensive, mutually beneficial and equal.

Russia is closely tracking the developments in the Arab world and empathizes with the Arabs. The Middle East and North African nations are its old and close friends. It is confident that no tribulation can destroy this friendship.”



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