12 March 200310:35

REPLIES BY RUSSIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS IGOR IVANOV TO QUESTIONS FROM HAMSHAHRI AND IRAN NEWSPAPERS, TEHERAN, MARCH 11, 2003

600-12-03-2003

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Unofficial translation from Russian

Question: We are witnessing how an antiwar coalition is being formed between large powers, such as Russia, China, Germany and France, as well as states contiguous to Iraq and the world community as a whole. Will this coalition be able to achieve success and prevent a war, in your opinion?

Foreign Minister Ivanov: The movement of opponents of a war in Iraq is growing literally with each passing day. Ever new states, international organizations and public forces are joining it. Enough to look at the scale of the antiwar protests, which are continuing unabated throughout the world.

Yet to speak of the formation of a "coalition" in the classical understanding of the word, directed by somebody or from somewhere, would be incorrect.

In actual fact, the antiwar protests bear a spontaneous character. People all over the planet have got tired of the Cold War, they want to live in a safe and just world. To construct such a world is feasible, and within our powers if we strictly rely not on the right of force, but on the force of right.

Today the entire world sees that the Iraq problem can be settled by political means in strict accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. Herein lies the force of right.

If, however, the path of war is taken, then it is not only the Iraqi people that will suffer. Waves of instability may sweep across the Gulf region and the Middle East and roll on farther still.

Who stands to gain by such a military scenario? Only those destructive forces in different corners of the world that dread the consolidation of the international antiterrorist coalition, the enhancement of the effectiveness of its activity and further progress of the international community towards the formation of a multipolar world order.

That is why the voice of the opponents of a war in Iraq is becoming ever louder. And we do hope that it will also be heard by those who today are still thinking about a military solution to the Iraq crisis.

Question: Some time ago in one of your statements there was the comment that a war in Iraq would have adverse implications in the fate of the Middle East. What do you think those implications are? They will affect only the political life of the region or will alter the entire geopolitical situation?

Foreign Minister Ivanov: In terms of Iraq the international community is actually undergoing a test for the ability to solve politically one of the most complicated regional crises in the present-day conditions of the early 21st century. If we manage by peaceful means to disarm Iraq in strict conformity with the UN Security Council resolutions - and we are unanimous in the view that this needs to be done - then a precedent will be created opening the way for a political settlement of other conflicts and, above all, in the Middle East.

If, however, developments around Iraq proceed according to a military scenario, and particularly in circumvention of the UN Security Council, then all the fundamental UNSC resolutions, and other agreements creating the legal basis for a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, may turn out to be open to question. In these circumstances - both in Israel and in the Arab countries - those may get the upper hand who are banking on force. It is not hard to guess where all this can lead.

But the very consequences of a war in Iraq, of course, extend beyond this region. The unilateral use of force will have an unfavorable effect on the general situation in the world, weaken the antiterrorist coalition, contribute to the growth of radicalism in the Islamic world, and affect adversely the world economic conditions. In totality, all these trends can present a serious threat to international stability.

That is why Russia together with many other states is undertaking vigorous efforts in order to prevent a war against Iraq and to arrive at a political settlement. Only such a solution meets, in the greatest degree, general interests including the interests of the United States of America.

Question: What consequences for the world community and the system of international relations will the realization by the US of its doctrine of preventive war entail?

Foreign Minister Ivanov: I would not right now analyze some or other doctrines or concepts. Whatever states may be guided by in working out their national doctrines, they ought to proceed from the supremacy of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. At the same time, it is abundantly clear that any actions of force, whatever their motivation, undertaken in circumvention of the United Nations and the rules of international law, may seriously destabilize the system of international relations.

March 12, 2003

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