"A split of Europe, even a short-time one is adverse to Russia's interests," chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Council (the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament) Mikhail Margelov said. In his speech at a Russian-German "Petersburg Dialogue" forum he stressed that Russia would like to have such relations with Europe that would "contribute to settlement of topical issues and not impede it." The Senator said that freedom of movement of Russian citizens as well as increased trade and economic contacts with European countries and more favourable conditions for Russian businessmen abroad were among these topical issues. "It is extremely difficult to tackle the issues during the crisis caused by the Iraq war and we believe Europe will overcome the crisis as soon as possible," Mikhail Margelov stressed.
He pointed out that Russia "is not indifferent to the outcome of the war." According to him, Saddam Hussein's regime is not sympathized with in Russia, "though Iraq has the right to be treated as a member of the international community and not as a firing ground."