On 17 February, the third conference of the Middle East Section of Valdai International Discussion Club commenced in Sochi. M.L. Bogdanov, the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, takes part in the conference. During the opening ceremony of the Forum he read off the following greeting message of S.V. Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia.
“I heartily welcome the participants of the third conference of the Middle East Section of Valdai International Discussion Club.
This session of the Club takes place in a period which is not simple both for the Arab region and the world in whole. Major transformation processes which are far from completion are underway in the Middle East and North Africa.
We hope that the changes in the region will ensure better and decent life for the nations and the possibility to perform the urgent social-economic and political transformations. We are interested in the democratic way of development of the Arab countries which we would like to see stable and prosperous. However, it is obvious that the region is overloaded with the problems related to politico-military, energy, inter-civilization and other areas, which threaten both the well-being of its nations and the international stability. We are willing to assist in the settlement of these problems together with other responsible members of the world community.
The subject of your conference is Transformation in the Arab World and Interests of Russia. Due to geopolitical, historical, cultural and humanitarian, and other factors, the interrelations with this region have always been of special importance for us. Russia has invariably supported the independence and free development of the Arab nations, and traditionally friendly relations with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa are based on a firm foundation of mutual attraction and trust. This is our common patrimony, and I am sure that no political fluctuations can affect it.
We expect that your work will allow additional support of two important theses the truth of which, as we believe, is demonstratively proved by the recent events. Firstly, disturbances must not be used for foreign interference in affairs of sovereign states. Only the people themselves have the right to determine their own destiny. Secondly, the current situation should not divert our attention from the settlement of the Arab-Israeli and other conflicts which have been spoiling the climate in the region for a long time.
We intend to attentively study your judgments and opinions in order to find the optimal ways to overcome the crisis and ensure peaceful progressive development of the friendly countries.
I wish you successful and fruitful work.”