Flyura Ziyatdinova deputy chairman of the State Duma’s Committee on International Affairs tries to answer this question.
Q. In your opinion, is Russia now loosing its influence upon its former friends?
A. I would like to answer your question by analizing what now Russia is in the international community. What opportunities does it have, what defence potential? Now Russia is not that same country it was in the Soviet time. Its status is being determined with what we want to achieve. If we again fix a purpose to catch up with America and to leave it behind, you know, we cannot do it now. Moreover, it is pointless. In our planet, there are enough reserves of nuclear weapon, of conventional arms, of chemical and bacteriological arms to annihilate the Earth dozens and even hundreds and thousands times. I suppose, that that great work which was being carried out by our predecessors in the sphere of foreign relations and which being carried out now by deputies and diplomats, including the Duma’s Committee on International Affairs, by our parliamentarians, and first of all by our President, taking into account that economical and armament potential we now possess, is very reasonable and defensible. We were not very logical while many times defending Milosevic, though the parliament has never refused from this function. I am the member of the commission headed by Nikolai Ryzhkov, which determines consequences of bombardments in Yugoslavia. It is inadmissible that one country tries to substitute for the whole international body, which was created specially for that aims, I mean UN Security Council, and to speak in the name of collective human intellect. Nobody of us could agree with such position and will not do it in the future. This is why, the Committee on International Affairs does its best to support the UN status. We should not allow to refuse from this international institution, the only one empowered by the whole international community to solve problems of the kind. This also concerns Palestine. Now, the US aspires to the role of international arbiter and should be flexible enough to play this role invented by itself, while we know that in the most important moments, Israel gets the most effective support of the US.
Q. Is there in the State Duma a lobby of this country?
A. Yes, there is. That are representatives of the rightist factions. Though, they do not keep it back and work openly. If even our deputies visit this country officially, they meet there with representatives of right-wing forces from Apple faction and Union of Right Force. I suppose this is not bad, because they are our compatriots. While considering the Arab-Israeli conflict, we should expect carrying out the resolutions: the issue cannot be settled without this. Two states should be created. The opposition will exist until this happens. We could not for a very long time agree with Americans about carrying peace-makers in the zone of conflict. I proposed to return to the peace-making initiative. Why cannot we use it here, if we can use it in any other region of the world?
Q. Who is it in Russia, who so inertly react to your just demands?
A. Russia react very flatly. In my view, we ourselves do not want so much to deepen into this conflict. Now, it is obvious that our internal problems hold in our initiatives. While bettering relations between the conflicting sides is also very important. Some terrorist acts constantly take place, some actions, so the conflict is still in fevered condition. While League of Arab States could participate in settling of Arab-Israeli conflict.
Q. In your view, was Mironov right by visiting the conflict zone? A. At that time, he was only the beginning speaker of the Upper House. Israeli side was against his visit. Though, I suppose, that was the private position of Sergei Mironov, that he did not want to meet with Palestinian side during that visit. And later, when he was at the international meeting in Maracesh, he invited members of Palestinian delegation and met with them. In my view, being a politician and a diplomat, he should have met with both sides.
Q. What do you think about Arafat’s isolation?
A. I find it completely inadmissible to restrict freedom of Arafat, which is violation of international law. Any state leader cannot be isolated and restricted in movements and speech, when he must be the head of a liberation movement and contact with his nation. Q. Is the Foreign Ministry was right while keeping silent?
A. No, the Ministry did not keep silent. That persons who were in the conflict zone constantly returned to this question, though we should take into account that in the military situation, they did not have so much opportunities to settle the problem.
Q. Why does Israel not permit international representatives to approach to Arabs?
A. While acting in this way, Israel follows the US policy. Israel interprets all its military activities towards Palestinians as a fight against terrorism. In this sense, it literally copies activities of its ally. The conflicting sides have not been seated at the negotiating table yet, this keeps the problem unsettled. There are sceptics who suppose the conflict will continue for a very long time. In my view, this conflict could last for ages, though it should be settled.
Q. Do you think Ariel Sharon got to a political pit having moved tanks on Palestinians?
A. His activities caused a tide of protest all around the world, including the US. It is enough to understand that this politician does not enjoy confidence in many countries of the world.
Q. Do you believe in our Foreign Ministry’s policy?
A. I do not want to discuss personalities of ministers, though while working in the Committee of the State Duma I got acquainted with some leaders of the Ministry. That are very reasonable people, who understand their responsibility for every word they say, estimating their words as diplomats representing a really great power. I am sure that if even we cannot not call our country great power, a short period of time is necessary to return our positions. Some nations still consider us as a great power. Today, many initiatives of our country are being produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And they are certainly supported by the leadership of the country. This is a good base for our foreign policy to be reasonable and logical.
Flyura Ziyatdinova was interviewed by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/15/41096.html