"If one side makes a statement regarding the possibility and necessity of
eliminating the other side, of annihilating it, then that approach is
absolutely unacceptable for Russia."
IMRA: Notice the "if"
Vladimir Putin answered Russian journalists’ questions
June 26, 2012, 22:30 Jordan
Upon concluding his visit to the Middle Eastern, Vladimir Putin answered
questions from Russian media representatives.
* * *
QUESTION: Mr President, you discussed the topic of Syria with many leaders
recently, and now you are literally an hour’s drive from Syria. What is your
outlook? My second question concerns the upcoming international conference
on Syria. The US has stated that it does not want to talk with Iran on this
matter. Do you feel it would be possible to discuss this issue, and settle
this problem overall, without Iran?
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that the more of Syria’s
neighbours are involved in the settlement process the better. Why? Because
almost every neighbouring nation affects some part of the process. I feel
that ignoring those opportunities, those interests, would be
counterproductive, as diplomats like to say. In any case, this would
complicate the process. We have cooperated with Iran on Afghanistan and we
are still cooperating on certain other issues. And this should have nothing
to do with the problems pertaining to Iran’s nuclear programme; that is a
separate topic. Thus, in my view, it would be better to involve Iran in this
process and secure its support. It would be better if the people inside
Syria itself were able to agree with one another, and if all its
neighbouring nations – all who can influence the situation – were to act as
the guarantors of these agreements.
QUESTION: Mr President, President of Israel Shimon Peres devoted most of
yesterday’s reception to the topic of Iran. Do you share his point of view
that Iran represents a direct threat to Israel’s existence as a state, or
could present that threat in the foreseeable future?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Peres is certainly among the most experienced,
established politicians in the world. Not just in terms of age, but in terms
of experience, first and foremost. If one side makes a statement regarding
the possibility and necessity of eliminating the other side, of annihilating
it, then that approach is absolutely unacceptable for Russia. We have stated
this position many times; it is our fundamental position. We feel that we
must all aim to strengthen the prevailing principles of international law
and conform to those regulations – first and foremost, the United Nations
Charter. And we must eliminate and weed out everything else from the theory
and practice of international relations.
The Iranian problem is complicated, but I ultimately feel that it can and
should be resolved by absolutely peaceful means, by way of negotiations and
on the basis of respecting the rights of the Iranian people to the peaceful
use of nuclear energy with absolute guarantees to the global community that
the implementation of that programme will not lead to the emergence of
nuclear weapons and will not promote the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction in the world.
QUESTION: Mr President, I have a slightly off-topic question. Do you feel
that it was right to accept the resignation of the Russian Football Union
President Sergei Fursenko? How, and most importantly, when will we know the
name of the next Russian Football Union president? Perhaps you already have
an idea of who it might be?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not know who it might be. The decision to resign was
made by Mr Fursenko himself. I spoke with him. He feels (and he said this
publicly) that he carries a significant part of the responsibility for our
national team’s unsatisfactory performance. He feels that we have a good
team, that the players could have done a much better job. He perceives the
results to be unsatisfactory and feels that he himself carries a certain,
known measure of responsibility, so he made the decision to resign in order
to give other people, another person, the future president of the Russian
Football Union, the chance to realise his potential and implement his plans.
I feel that this is a very dignified decision and a good one; nobody pushed
him to make it, it was his own personal choice. Honestly, I do not know who
might be the next president of the Russian Football Union. This is up to the
QUESTION: And when?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It shouldn’t take too long, because we need to name the
future head coach of the Russian national team and begin work. It’s
generally known that sports involve a great deal of work and responsibility
to the nation, particularly if we are talking about the national team, and
require this process to be well-organised. So here, we need good organisers
and specialists. I very much count on the current leaders of the Russian
Football Union to choose a worthy coach for the national team, and we will
be able to prepare for future kick-offs. Conclusions must be drawn from all
the mistakes – those conclusions should be aimed at identifying and
eliminating those mistakes and achieving good results. That is what we must
aim for, rather than being sad or beating ourselves up.
QUESTION: Today, you opened a science and culture centre in Bethlehem, and
the street where it stands is named after you. Did you know about this? How
do you feel – not only when this is done abroad, but in Russia as well –
about being immortalised like this while you are still living?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course, I would love to continue living some more. You
say, while still living or not living… In general, as was the case here and
in other nations, I was not made aware of it in advance; it was completely
unexpected for me today as well. Still, I think that our immortalisation is,
first and foremost, up to future generations. But if something like this
happens, it is a sensitive issue, especially if it happens abroad: if we
protest too much, we can offend people. So honestly, I am a little abashed,
but there is nothing to be done about it.
QUESTION: In these two days, you spoke with all the sides of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Have there been any signs that the situation
in settling this conflict may move forward from the current standstill, and
were you able to get Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas to agree to a personal
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I did not come here with a goal of encouraging a personal
meeting between these two heads of state. But I did get the impression that
agreements are possible. In any case, I witnessed a desire from our Israeli
partners and friends to meet halfway with the Palestinian side, and the
Palestinians certainly want to renew peaceful talks but, of course, after
adherence to the many agreements that were reached earlier. We specifically
talked about how these are not preliminary conditions, they want to see
agreements that were reached earlier.
I do not even want to assess the positions of each of the sides now, but
what’s most important, and I do not doubt this, is that there is goodwill
both from the Israeli side and the Palestinian side to move forward. I think
that we can be witnesses to this movement. But it would be wrong to rule out
any parties in this process, particularly the United States. The United
States is currently on the threshold of its elections, so I think the Middle
East may not be their main priority, but I feel it would be wrong to take
any significant steps while excluding the United States’ direct
participation, because this always elicits suspicion. Who needs suspicions
here, and why? We need to have patience and prepare the next step. It is
QUESTION: Mr President, there is political reform happening in Russia which
was launched half a year ago. Are you pleased with how it is progressing?
How do you react to the excesses, both by members of the opposition and by
the authorities (I am referring to the searches and so on – I imagine you
know and follow these events?) And as the guarantor of the Constitution,
what can you guarantee for these people?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I want to say that I must guarantee the opportunity for all
citizens of the Russian Federation to exercise their rights, regardless of
their official capacity, but at the same time, I must strive to ensure that
everyone keeps in line with applicable legislation.
As for the searches you mentioned, and certain other things… Believe it or
not, I learned about it from the press. If everything was carried out within
the framework of applicable law, then it is normal; if there were any
infractions, then naturally, we will look into them. But if somebody’s
rights were violated, those individuals must turn to relevant authorities –
in this case, the courts. I am certain that the courts will react
accordingly. I repeat, if rights were violated. And in general, I recommend
that all citizens always do exactly that: if their rights are violated, they
should turn to the courts.
Now, improving the judicial system is a separate issue, but it is a process,
a path that we must travel – a path of gradual evolution by all the
structures in our society, and it is that path that will lead us to where we
need to be.
QUESTION: You visited the main holy sites here and in Jerusalem. You even
prayed at the Wailing Wall. I will venture to ask, what did you pray to God
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The Wailing Wall is a holy shrine for the Jewish people; it
is one of the pillars of one of the world’s major religions, Judaism. As you
know, Judaism is one of the four traditional religions in our nation, and
this status for Judaism was established by the law of the Russian
Federation. Thus, I feel that it is entirely normal to visit this shrine –
in this case, a shrine of the Jewish people.
In addition, there are also other considerations. You know, all disputes in
the Middle East ultimately come down to this place, because it is a point of
contention, and one of the most problematic matters in this discussion is
who this place belongs to. First, a synagogue was built here, then other
cultural buildings, then still others – and so on. Honestly, I have been
here before, I have watched, and I have visited the Wailing Wall, too. But I
never had the chance to get to see it so closely. It was very interesting
and useful to look at this problem from within, to hear specialists talk
Moreover, I do not know who among you has been there, whether you have seen
it or not, but I was able, quite spontaneously, to talk to people who had
just come there to pray. I must say that it was an interesting conversation
and the people were very open, kind, interested in cooperating with all
their sisters and brothers from other faiths. It was very nice to hear and
Thank you very much.
June 26, 2012, 22:30 Jordan