Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin to YT:Arabs and Russia united on Iraq [Archives:2003/626/Community]

March 10 2003

Mohammed bin Sallam
Russian Ambassador to Yemen, H.E. Mr. Alexander Zasypkin, 51, is known to be one of the most active, and dedicated ambassadors in Yemen. He started working in the diplomatic sector in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 73, which means that this year he has marked three decades in service.
He started his diplomatic career in the USS embassy in Syria where he worked for 17 years. Then he became the Charge d' affaires of his country's embassy in Riyadh and then he started his mission in Yemen as the Minister Plenipotentiary of the Russian Embassy in Sanaa during 1994-95. Then he became the deputy manager of the Middle East and North African Office at the Russian Foreign Ministry. Finally he became the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Yemen in 2002, which is the post he is in today.
In an interview with Yemen Times, Mr. Zasypkin valued present Yemeni-Russian bilateral relations and said, “There is tangible improvement in bilateral relations between Sanaa and Moscow. Relations have enhanced especially after the latest visit of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Moscow, which gave the bond between our two countries unprecedented strength.”
“It is clear that the discussions that took place between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Yemeni President Saleh have boosted bilateral relations between the two friendly countries after almost a decade of stagnancy.”
The Ambassador then briefly stated the main steps taken to achieve better relations between the two countries.
“Firstly, the political dialogue between the two leaders during the latest visit of President Saleh to Moscow tackled major regional and international issues along with bilateral relations which are shaping up in a serious and unique manner. The dialogue has indeed demonstrated that the two leaders have common views on major issues in the world.
Secondly, based on the bilateral cooperation traditions that have been continuous during the last forty years in the military field, the Russian Federation is willing to participate in modernizing the Yemeni military forces. We believe this coincides with the interest of the Yemeni nation and the interest of neighboring nations in terms of security.
Thirdly, unfortunately, throughout the last years relations between the two countries went through tough times especially concerning economic and trade-related cooperation, which was active for more than 75 years between the two friendly nations. However, following the visit of President Saleh to Moscow, interest and determination in investing in Yemen by several Russian companies and investors has increased.
A large number of businessmen and companies have already applied to Yemen seeking approval to invest in the country in several industrial and exploration fields and in free trade between the two nations. I have come to know that major Russian companies in the oil industry have realized the potential in working on exploring oil in Yemen.
I can say that the number of initiatives and requests to find new projects in fields such as gas, electricity and oil, etc. in Yemen is in the rise. We hope that good circumstances based on international standards will be provided to Russian companies willing to invest in Yemen once they agree to work in oil and gas exploration or in the electricity and trade sectors.
In the meantime, we are intensifying direct contacts with the chambers of commerce and industry in both Sanaa and Moscow to arrive to an agreement that would serve both parties best.
Fourthly, after we have signed the cultural and educational cooperation agreement between the two governments in Moscow in an earlier time, we have now started preparing the executive program that would guarantee the cooperation in this field, which will include all the specific articles in the agreement so as to provide academic scholarships to Yemeni students and to also initiate academic and cultural exchange programs to benefit both countries' peoples.”
In an answer to a question on military cooperation and Russian assistance to Yemen so as to modernize the Yemeni military forces, the Russian Ambassador said, “We have to find the appropriate method to cooperate militarily because we do understand the limited resources of Yemen, and we will try to provide Russian assistance – which would not be as much as what used to be during the USSR period – that would include various ways to facilitate payments for purchased weapons.”
On the Russian stance concerning the Iraqi issue, the ambassador expressed his satisfaction with the results produced by the last Arab summit held at Sharam Al-Sheikh in Egypt including the final declaration that openly confirmed Arab opposition of using force to disarm Iraq. This shows that Arabs and Russians are united in their stance concerning Iraq.
The ambassador praised President Saleh's leading role in making a success out of the Arab Summit and his role in the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Conference held in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
As for the Russian stance towards the Iraqi issue he said, “We have done our best to limit the chances of a possible US-led war against Iraq. We are confident that a peaceful solution could be found, especially as current circumstances have become more suitable than before for effective inspections.”
The 1441 Security Council resolution enabled the UN inspectors to work more efficiently and we think that they will be able to achieve their mission successfully because their ultimate goal is to find whether Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction or not.”
The Russian Ambassador confirmed that the inspection committees have the capability to achieve the desired goals and that the international community should help them fulfill their responsibilities in a complete manner.
“On its part, Iraq has allowed the UN inspectors in to inspect all its installations and also allowed them to make interviews with Iraqi scientists. Furthermore, Iraq's destruction of its Sumoud II missiles demonstrates their cooperation.
When difficulties arise, they can be solved through dialogue and peaceful means between Iraq and the inspectors. Russia strongly rejected the use of force against Iraq without the authorization of the Security Council.
Russia in this respect is ready to look for alternative means to enhance the work of the UN inspectors so as they can establish a detailed and accurate program based on a timetable to schedule all the different phases of the inspections.
When need arises, the inspection committees should be able to increase the number of inspectors on the ground in Iraq.
All these things points have been mentioned in the French-German-Russian memorandum presented to the Security Council days ago.”
Bluntly speaking, Russia has the right to veto any resolution that would permit the use of force against Iraq, and we consider this the final resort if a resolution is to be passed for this purpose. When we feel that there could be danger threatening the international peace and security, we will rise to our responsibilities.
As for the Israeli possession of the nuclear weapons, Mr Zasypkin said that there have been double standards practices at the international level since a long time and Russia has been exerting great efforts to put an end to this phenomenon.
“The anti-nuclear weapons agreements should include all countries of the world. We are in favor of disarming the Middle East region from weapons of mass destruction.
At the same time, achieving that is not an easy task because it encompasses other political and military purposes particularly concerning the Israeli-Arab conflict. This can not be solved overnight because it is an extremely sensitive issue.”
Regarding crisis in the Caucasus Mountains, the Ambassador said that the economic and security conditions have begun to be improved in that region. “This manifests itself when the terror acts are about to be purged in the republic. In addition to this, other vital infrastructures are operated again. Schools opened their doors for students and the social conditions have begun to improve in the entire region.” he said.
He added that on March 23, there will be the constitution referendum and the presidential and parliamentary elections.
“Endorsing these laws in the republic will establish a very strong foundation to reach a satisfactory compromise. Preparations are in full swing to start a dialogue between the majority of the republic and other political forces, particularly those who still have strong isolated stances.
The Russian leadership is confident that the Chechens desire stability in order to lead a happier life for the benefit of the entire nations of the Russian Federation. Canvassing votes is the only mean to achieve the desired goals.” he concluded.