Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Welcoming Remarks to the Participants in the 5th Middle East Dialogue of the Valdai Discussion Club

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the participants in the 5th Middle East Dialogue of the Valdai Discussion Club.

Your meeting is taking place at a time when the Middle East and North Africa are going through serious upheavals related to the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya, among others, an unprecedented surge in terrorism and extremism, and deepening interethnic and interreligious differences. This situation has to a very large extent resulted from interference in the internal affairs of Arab states and irresponsible action to bring about regime change and impose development formulas and values on nations in the region from the outside. The further degradation of the situation poses a serious threat to the international architecture as a whole.

In this context, the theme of the present conference takes on special relevance. Obviously, the stabilisation of the situation is impossible without eradicating the seat of the terrorist threat, above all the ISIS group that has seized control over vast tracts of land in Syria and Iraq. This goal is the focus of President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to form a broad antiterrorist front based on international law and under the auspices of the UN. Needless to say, this effort will not be crowned with success unless all attempts to use terrorists as pawns in dubious geopolitical games are brought to an end.

At the same time, the international community should redouble its efforts to settle numerous crises and go ahead with developing a comprehensive strategy for political stabilisation and socioeconomic rehabilitation in the Middle East and North Africa.

Our country is actively involved in addressing these wide-ranging objectives. It was with Russia’s active participation that an agreement was reached on Iran’s nuclear programme and the Vienna process was launched to promote a political settlement in Syria. Russia’s Aerospace Forces, in coordination with Damascus, continue the operation to free the Syrian territory of ISIS militants and other terrorist groups. We will continue to promote the durable settlement of conflicts and crises in the region based on international law through an inclusive national dialogue.

The dangerous situation in the Middle East and North Africa requires a serious and comprehensive analysis. I hope that the forum will make a constructive contribution to these efforts.

I wish you productive discussions and all the very best.

Sergey Lavrov

February 25, 2016

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Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.