Promoting dialogue to settle Middle East conflicts

Tuesday, 2020-01-14 16:21:01
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Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands after a joint news conference in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, January 11, 2020. (Reuters)
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NDO – German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently visited Russia bringing along a number of issues up for discussion concerning the latest developments in the Middle East. During her trip, the head of the German government had longer-than-expected talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders reached a consensus on a number of important issues, sharing a common view that only a political solution could resolve the current crises in the Middle East.

The visit to Russia made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel took place amid complicated developments in the current global outlook, with the “hot spots” in the Middle East heating up. A series of international issues were discussed by the Russian and German leaders, ranging from the Syrian and the Libyan crises to the palpable US-Iran tensions. Speaking at a press conference after their talks in Moscow, German Chancellor Merkel and Russian President Putin raised their views on said issues, stating that the two sides achieved a common voice in strongly promoting dialogue to resolve disputes.

The Libyan crisis was among the issues that was given special concern by the two leaders. Chancellor Merkel revealed that peace talks aimed at settling the conflict between factions in Libya will be held in the German capital of Berlin. According to her, the purpose of the talks are to create an opportunity for Libya to finally become a sovereign and peaceful nation. She expressed her hopes that the joint efforts of Russia and Turkey would lead to a success, although it’s worth bearing in mind that some pro-Russian forces supporting the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) and Turkey supporting the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the escalating GNA-LNA conflict in the North African country. President Putin declared his support for Germany’s initiative, saying that the situation in Libya was affecting regional stability and having a negative impact on Europe. In this regard, he asserted that, if mercenaries from Russia appear in Libya, these people do not represent Russia’s national interests and will not receive Moscow’s support.

The Russian and German leaders also agreed on the need to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, emphasizing the importance of diplomatic measures. Saving the Iran nuclear agreement from the brink of collapse is also a joint effort of the European Union (EU). The leaders of the UK, France and Germany recently issued a joint statement calling on Iran to return to full compliance and refrain from further violating commitments in the JCPOA. European leaders in-turn affirmed their willingness to coordinate with Iran to protect regional stability. President Putin also spoke on the phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to reach a consensus on the continuous efforts to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, in which the two leaders urged the parties, who were directly involved in the incident leading to the latest escalation of tensions between Iran and the US, to show restraint. The above-mentioned diplomatic efforts were put forward after a recent urgent meeting of EU foreign ministers regarding the Middle East situation, in which the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, had warned of a possible failure in the efforts to save the Iran nuclear deal.

With Russia playing an important factor in finding a solution to the Syrian crisis, German Chancellor Merkel voiced her wish to listen to ideas from President Putin who recently returned from a visit to Syria and Turkey. The Russian President stressed the need to unify the efforts of all members of the international community to help state agencies and the entire people of Syria to restore electricity and water infrastructure facilities, hospitals and schools, which have been devastated after years of conflict. However, he noted that any support should be agreed with Syria’s legal administration and allocated to all the affected areas without any prerequisites and the politicisaion of issues. Regarding the view, President Putin received the support of Chancellor Merkel, as the two leaders asserted the stance of terminating the war in Syria via political solutions in accordance with Resolution 2254 of the United Nations Security Council. President Putin also expressed his hopes that large-scale military actions would not occur in the Middle East, since it would be disastrous for the entire world. According to him, that scenario would result in a massive influx of migrants and refugees, not only to Europe but also to other regions, thus causing humanitarian and economic disasters. This is very close to the view of Germany, who also plays an important role in the efforts to establish peace and stability in the Middle East.

Given Russia’s influence in currently addressing important international issues, it is understandable that Germany wants to seek Moscow’s cooperation in matters regarding the Middle East. The cooperation “handshake” between Russia and Germany shows that the international community is striving to promote dialogue to remove the detonator of the current conflict in the Middle East.