Lavrov’s visit to Middle East to revive Russia’s role in region

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 17 / Trend , U.Sadigova /

Sergei Lavrov's visit to the Palestinian Authority and Israel could advance the Middle East truce in cooperation with mediators, but Russia will not be able to make a new contribution to the promotion of the truce.

"The Middle East needs the assistance of all parties [to resolve the conflict], especially after the war in Gaza Strip," Egyptian daily Al-Ahram political columnist Bashshar Abdel Fattah said to Trend by telephone from Cairo. But Russia will not be able to make something new [in the peace process], as the problems in the region linked to the U.S. and the EU.

The main objective of Lavrov's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority was the preparations for a Middle East peace conference in Moscow, to be held in the middle of this year. Foreign Minister will also trip to Egypt, Bahrain and Oman.

The main obstacle in carrying out this conference is the cool attitude of Israelis, who escape from a direct question if they agree to participate in this forum.

"Moscow intends to convene an international conference with participation of the Arab world and all the regional powers," Lavrov said after the talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres. Israel will be invited to participate as an important party to the peace process.

Russia has further insisted on holding a peace conference in Moscow. In December France offered to host a conference in Paris

In response to Sarkozy's initiative, Russia has achieved of the inclusion of an item to hold the conference in Moscow in the UN Security Council resolution on Jan. 9. To secure success minister of foreign affairs went to the Middle East, the Kommersant newspaper reported.

Lavrov's visit can enhance the role of Moscow in the settlement of the Middle East problem.

Russia tries to revive its role in the Arab world, to remind other countries that Russia could contribute to resolving problems in the region, said Abdel Fattah.

"Restoration of Russia's role can be beneficial in resolving the problems of the Middle East, which is also in the domestic interests of Russia, Fattah added.

Russia advocates the signing of the Armistice Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas under the Egyptian initiative. The agreement envisages opening of all borders in the region and to put an end to violence on both sides.

As a member of the Middle East quartet, Russia acts as a neutral mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, so the relationship between the Arab world and Israel with Moscow develop on the same level.

However, Lavrov too hurried to travel to Israel, Kommersant quoted Israeli political analyst Benny Briskin as saying.

"It is inappropriate time for a visit, because the elections were held in Israel and a future government has not yet been formed," said Briskin.

The Middle East Institute head Yevgeny Satanovsky believes that the attitudes toward the Moscow conference do not depend on the framework of the coalition government and Prime's party belonging, Komersant said.

The Kadima party, headed by Tzipi Livni and the Likud party, headed by former Prime Minister Netanyahu Beniamin, are the main adversarial parties.

Even if the Israeli Government has not yet been formed, Russia has the opportunity to demonstrate equidistance from all political forces in Israel, Satanovsky said.

However, even if Moscow's role in the Middle East will be revived, Russia will not be able to go to the forefront and force out the U.S. and the EU, said Egyptian analyst Fattah.

"U.S. can pressure Israel into the conflict. ... Russia has no such opportunities," Fattah added.

While the U.S. has political influence, and Europe - economic in the Middle East, Russia played the role of the third plan.

"So far, Russia is not able to bring to the resolution of [the Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, more than Washington and the EU," Fattah added.

Unlike Western countries, Russia's vital interest in the Middle East is not oil, but security and stability.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' report stated that Russia does not want to make the Middle East as a source of conflict, terrorism, and that the region was involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which is directly connected to the security of Russia and adversely affects the international environment.

Russia intensified expansion of cooperation with the Islamic world since Russia was received to the Organization of Islamic Conference as an observer at the initiative of former President Vladimir Putin.

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