— Neighbouring countries concerned about the risk of a Belgian nuclear meltdown

Global Research, January 20, 2017
The Ecologist 19 January 2017
belgium nuclear

It’s not the metaphorical political meltdown of Belgium that neighbouring governments fret about, but a nuclear meltdown. The Netherlands, Luxemburg and Germany have all asked Belgium’s government to close its most risky reactors with immediate effect. The city of Aachen and 30 other major cities and districts are also suing Belgium for not closing them. The German government no longer trusts the Belgian Nuclear Safety Agency and wants permission for its own agency to do safety checks. So far, foreign pressure is falling on deaf ears.

Belgians have even more reasons to worry. On 10 January 2017 a new emergency plan was presented in a commission in Belgium’s Parliament. The evacuation perimeter was conveniently halved to 10km to avoid an evacuation of Belgium’s second and third cities in case of a meltdown. Nuclear Transparency Watch, a European organisation created by Members of the European Parliament of all political colours, called Belgium’s plans totally inadequate and incoherent.inad

So rather than signing agreements with Belgium about sharing information, where are the sanctions for Belgium? There are both EU and UN regulations that could shut the reactors down, as more than a million people requested a year ago. Belgium’s neighbours have reasons to get tough.

Belgium is your backyard

Belgium’s recent nuclear history reads like a mirror of Germany’s, where the highest court decided that Merkel’s decision to speed up the nuclear phase-out after the Fukushima incident was justified. Belgium did just the opposite. The Belgian government reversed a nuclear phase-out law from 2003 only a year after the Japanese reactors exploded, pushing retirement back from 2015 to 2025. The last bill to postpone retirement with 10 years was approved at the end of 2016. The Government can ‘take comfort’ at the fact that 2017 started better than 2016: in 2016, the first ‘incident’ happened just two days into the New Year on January 2; in 2017 the first incident (in which one person got severely injured) took place eight days later on January 10 with an unexpected shutdown as result.

Yes, the protesting former president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz was born and raised close to Belgium’s border and yes, I was born and raised 15 km from four nuclear reactors in Doel, in the city of Antwerp (half a million people). But before you call us NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) activists: our backyard contains six to seven million people that in the event of a nuclear meltdown would never be able to go home again. Depending on the wind direction on the day of a meltdown, a radioactive cloud will poison additional people in London, Paris, Amsterdam or Aachen as well. The possibility of that scenario has increased in recent years.

Cracks, extortion and sabotage 

In 2012 it became known that the mantle around the old Tihange 2 reactor shows signs of erosion. Further research in 2015 concluded that there are thousands of cracks of up to 15 cm. Later that year, 10 security incidents were recorded in Tihange in just six weeks, leading Belgium’s nuclear safety agency to suspend four members of staff and raise serious questions about the safety culture. In 2015, Belgian’s nuclear plants spent longer in shutdown or “maintenance” than in being operational.

Who said nuclear energy was a reliable source of energy?

But it is the Doel plant that reads like the script of an apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster, part one. The plant was sabotaged in 2014. The sabotage was found before things spiralled out of control, but the culprit(s) remain unknown. A year later, police found hidden cameras that followed the movements of a nuclear researcher, raising alarming questions about criminals extorting staff. Research also revealed a staggering number of cracks in the mantle that is supposed to keep the Doel 3 reactor in check: 13,047. The cracks are on average 1 to 2 cm wide, but the largest ones are up to 18cm. And with 35 years of operational history, the researched Doel 3 is the second “youngest” of Doel’s four reactors. Belgium’s nuclear safety agency concluded after the tests in Tihange and Doel that the erosion of the mantle was due to normal reactor activity. They can thus be expected to be present in all plants in the world of similar age and to keep multiplying through normal reactor use.

The economic and terrorist threats

In terms of potential economic impacts, Doel is by far number 1 in Europe. The major Fukushima disaster knocked 2 to 10% from Japan’s GDP, but when Doel goes into meltdown, the cost is estimated to be 200% of the GDP of Belgium. In such a scenario, GDP won’t really mean much. Most of Flanders and the capital of Europe will become inhabitable zones, sending millions of refugees to France, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Will they open their borders for a flood of immigrants from Belgium?

And then there’s terrorism. For the last two years, Belgian authorities have claimed we are living under emergency level 3, just one notch below the State of Emergency that France is living under. This means a terrorist threat is “serious” and an attack “probable”. France has already experienced a series of undeclared drone flights over various nuclear power stations. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists later explained that the danger of that is not about drones carrying small explosives and crashing on the plant because in theory a nuclear plant can cope with a jumbo jet crash (although this has never been tested). But drones can easily carry AK47s and drop them inside the territory of the plant, even at night.

In another scenario laid out by the atomic scientists, drones can attack the power lines and then the diesel generator back-up system. It requires a bit more organisation than driving a truck into a crowd, but less than teaching a terrorist team how to fly a jumbo jet, hijack several at the same time and fly them into the two WTC towers and the Pentagon. As we have learned the hard way in recent years, Belgium also happens to be a favourite hide-out for terrorists. Belgium’s authorities want us to believe that the terrorist risk has never been so high, but they don’t want you to connect that with our nuclear plants and with unexplained drone flights over nuclear plants.

Corrupted centralised power plants

All this raises the question: is it still smart to count on a few vulnerable centralised power plants? And what about the waste of state money that seems to come hand-in-hand with nuclear power? Bulgaria wasted 1,221 billion euro on a plant that never materialized. Bulgaria is also still spending money to deal with the legacy of uranium mining, even though the last mine closed in 1992. When I visited the surroundings of the now closed Buhovo mine, stones of a size that would fit a child’s hand showed radiation 100s of times above normal. They were ready to be picked up and played with at a popular local picnic place.

Conflicts against nuclear power plants and the formulation of constructive alternatives are popping up outside Europe as well: from India to Japan. So are the conflicts and externalised costs around the uranium that now feeds most of our reactors, from Niger to Namibia. Although there’s one other country that has become the EU’s main supplier: Russia. But as environmental justice, geopolitical weakening or financial debacles don’t seem to stop the nuclear addiction: will it have to take another meltdown? Policymakers seem to have forgotten that our countries signed up to the precautionary principle, which the EU still has in its Treaty. Maybe it’s time that the Germans, who are kicking nuclear out of their country, march once more on Belgium. As a Belgian citizen I do kindly request to come in peace and only armed with the renewable energy solutions that swept your country.

Nick Meynen was the organiser of a 72km long anti-nuclear energy march from Doel to Brussels. He works for the ENVJUSTICE project and writes articles and books on environmental issues.

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— Nuclear terrorism could be used to blackmail Europe and Russia

The situation in Ukraine is frightening on many fronts. The mainstream news severely censors the news, as it does on Fukushima. Fort Russ is one website translating and publishing articles on the situation. Global Research is another.

There are 15 nuclear reactors operating in Ukraine right now — 6 reactors at Zaporozhye (and there has already been an accident there) and 2 at South Ukraine, both in the south eastern part of Ukraine. Imagine an accident at one or both of these plants.

Peace in Ukraine and the cessation of US and Western support for the Kiev regime that has brought about this dangerous state of affairs has to be a top priority. When just one reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine erupted in 1986, the land as far away as North Wales was so severely contaminated that the dairy industry to this day continues to be impacted and monitored.

From Fort Russ

Zhuravko: Islyamov Could Engage in Nuclear Terrorism for the Sake of Blackmailing Russia

Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
27th June, 2016

The situation in Ukraine continues to be alarming, and, unfortunately, does not create hope and optimism. The state under the control of the coup is rapidly approaching collapse on all fronts. In this sense, unfortunately, the threat is not only to the State of the country or the welfare of its inhabitants, but also the lives of millions of people, and not only in Ukraine. The Kiev government largely does not control the situation in Ukraine, does not control its own militants, and cannot prevent many emergencies, among which the safety of Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant has special status.

This was discussed on the TV programme “Special Status” on the TV channel “Zvezda”, which the Ukrainian opposition politician Alexei Zhuravko participated in.

“I am receiving disturbing information from Ukraine almost every day. The threat of a terrible collapse and many deaths exists. We mustn’t joke on the topic of nuclear plants. In addition, experts seak about one other threat: it is Islyamov, it is “Azov” militants, fighters of “Dnepr”. And no one knows where the gun will turn. The worst thing is that the safety of nuclear power plants, which was ensured by the State, internal security, no longer exists. That is, there is no protection, there are no guns that were defending the stations before, all was stolen, money for major repairs of the stations was looted, very little resources were allocated. In Zaporozhye, according to my real information, there was already a shutdown of this station, and it is linked with experiments. (I still have connections, I used to work with “Energoatom”) In this situation, we need to unite, to connect media, to reach out to the Ukrainians, otherwise there will be a disaster,” he said.

Zhuravko doesn’t exclude that the fugitive Crimean Tatar terrorist Lenor Islyamov and his fighters, who have repeatedly threatened Russia with terrorist attacks, can bring his threats to life. Among those may be the explosion of nuclear facilities, nuclear power plants.

“It is simple. If some fool will get guns and mortars, after that it can explode. It’s scary! If today Islyamov wants to blackmail Russia, he has everything to do it. He can order the militants to close the stations and just to install terror. Nuclear terror. Because in Ukraine, the President does not control the country! And this process must be controlled by specialists,” said the politician.

“I ring all the bells around and I hope god will forbid those bastards from entering into nuclear power plant and chemical plant, and it’s just hard to imagine what the consequences and human toll would be,” adds Zhuravko.

“If today Russia will not interpose, we will have such a blast that it will not look like something small. And it will be Belarus, Russia, Europe, and other countries that will suffer the most! It is necessary to “rear up” Europe… it is necessary to inform Ukrainians, it is necessary to show and to tell the truth on this matter. And to prove to people that they need to rise because a catastrophe will whip up, and humanity will be no more. Think about it for the time being it’s not too late,” warns the politician.

At this time, in the South of Ukraine, armed militants that are massively deployed in the region, continue criminal terror. According to Zhuravko, robbery of the population gains the scope of this disaster.

“Kherson region. 50 people armed to the teeth took away the farmer’s tractor, covers, chemicals, and seed material to the amount of twelve million hryvnias.

Mykolaiv region, Bashtansky district, 25th June 2016, 40 people armed with machine guns and other machetes seized the entire crop from this year.

According to available information, in Ukraine, on the black market and near the area of the ATO, you can buy any kind of weapons, machine guns, grenades, machine guns, explosives, anti-tank mines, and more.

Private territorial battalions in Ukraine are growing like mushrooms after rain. The example of Isylamov’s battalions and their ISIS-isation of the Kherson region is already enough of a problem.

The President does not control the situation in Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine is not fighting against private territorial battalions with radical ideas, and are not fighting terrorism,” writes the ex-MP on a social network.

Alexei Zhuravko’s data was unexpectedly confirmed by the famous Ukrainian militant, leader of “Brotherhood” Dmitry Korchinskiy. Battalions under the leadership of businessman Lenur Islyamov, formed on the border with Crimea in Kherson region, are engaged in robbery, he said to the TV channel “112 Ukraine”.

“They have already proclaimed the necessity of national autonomy of the Crimean Tatars, without asking the Ukrainian people. Crimean Tatars, even in the times of Geray (dynasty of Kahn in the 15th Century – O.R), were not a majority in Crimea. And today they say that Crimea should be a national autonomy of Crimean Tatars!

Today in two districts in Kherson region… Tatars under the command of Lenur Islyamov, the former Deputy Prime Minister of the occupational government of Crimea, already have military formations that are very well armed, and are also engaged in robbery and all sorts of boorishness,” said Korchinskiy.

http://www.fort-russ.com/2016/06/zhuravko-islyamov-could-engage-in.html

Article on nuclear power in Ukraine:

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-T-Z/Ukraine/

Transcript of Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Valdai Club, October 22

President Putin’s speech was approximately 30 minutes long; the transcript is below is partial, only providing about 2/3 of it. The Kremlin website says “to be continued”, so hopefully the full transcript of his speech and answers to questions, as well as the remarks of the other speakers will be available soon. It would be helpful if names of the speakers are also listed, since the Valdai Club website does not have any information about the final panel or its moderator.

The video is translated into English, and some of the speakers speak English. The video is available here:
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50548/videos
http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50548

This was a panel of speakers. In addition to President Putin, the other speakers were the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, the former President of the Czech Republic,  and former American ambassador Jack Matlock. The initial speaker is not identified, and the moderator is not identified other than being American.

The moderator, unfortunately, is a surprising and detracting choice from the overall discussion. A better choice would have been someone with an actual background in US foreign policy, from an independent point of view and with a respectful attitude. Anglo-American ignorance and bombast are so frequent in public, but there are other Americans who would have provided an intelligent and enlivening addition to the discussion and a humble attitude. A knowledge disconnect does not further the discussion. And it is a Russian forum, after all. Valdai cannot sabotage its own aims by attempting to dialogue with those whose heads are in the sand if it wants to maintain legitimacy, advance the cause of peace, and advance the discussion past what is already well known. When a transcript of the moderator’s remarks becomes available, it will be posted on this website, along with some easily available resources to provide background on why Russia and other countries are correct in their assessment of American threat.

After speakers’ remarks, questions from the moderator and from the audience start about 1:24.

From en.Kremlin.ru

Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary session of the 12th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

This topic of this year’s Valdai conference is Societies Between War and Peace: Overcoming the Logic of Conflict in Tomorrow’s World. In the period between October 19 and 22, experts from 30 countries have been considering various aspects of the perception of war and peace both in the public consciousness and in international relations, religion and economic interaction between states.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to greet you here at this regular meeting of the Valdai International Club.

It is true that for over 10 years now this has been a platform to discuss the most pressing issues and consider the directions and prospects for the development of Russia and the whole world. The participants change, of course, but overall, this discussion platform retains its core, so to speak – we have turned into a kind of mutually understanding environment.

We have an open discussion here; this is an open intellectual platform for an exchange of views, assessments and forecasts that are very important for us here in Russia. I would like to thank all the Russian and foreign politicians, experts, public figures and journalists taking part in the work of this club.

This year the discussion focusses on issues of war and peace. This topic has clearly been the concern of humanity throughout its history. Back in ancient times, in antiquity people argued about the nature, the causes of conflicts, about the fair and unfair use of force, of whether wars would always accompany the development of civilisation, broken only by ceasefires, or would the time come when arguments and conflicts are resolved without war.

I’m sure you recalled our great writer Leo Tolstoy here. In his great novel War and Peace, he wrote that war contradicted human reason and human nature, while peace in his opinion was good for people.

True, peace, a peaceful life have always been humanity’s ideal. State figures, philosophers and lawyers have often come up with models for a peaceful interaction between nations. Various coalitions and alliances declared that their goal was to ensure strong, ‘lasting’ peace as they used to say. However, the problem was that they often turned to war as a way to resolve the accumulated contradictions, while war itself served as a means for establishing new post-war hierarchies in the world.

Meanwhile peace, as a state of world politics, has never been stable and did not come of itself. Periods of peace in both European and world history were always been based on securing and maintaining the existing balance of forces. This happened in the 17th century in the times of the se-called Peace of Westphalia, which put an end to the Thirty Years’ War. Then in the 19th century, in the time of the Vienna Congress; and again 70 years ago in Yalta, when the victors over Nazism made the decision to set up the United Nations Organisation and lay down the principles of relations between states.

With the appearance of nuclear weapons, it became clear that there could be no winner in a global conflict. There can be only one end – guaranteed mutual destruction. It so happened that in its attempt to create ever more destructive weapons humanity has made any big war pointless.

Incidentally, the world leaders of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s did treat the use of armed force as an exceptional measure. In this sense, they behaved responsibly, weighing all the circumstances and possible consequences.

The end of the Cold War put an end to ideological opposition, but the basis for arguments and geopolitical conflicts remained. All states have always had and will continue to have their own diverse interests, while the course of world history has always been accompanied by competition between nations and their alliances. In my view, this is absolutely natural.

The main thing is to ensure that this competition develops within the framework of fixed political, legal and moral norms and rules. Otherwise, competition and conflicts of interest may lead to acute crises and dramatic outbursts.

We have seen this happen many times in the past. Today, unfortunately, we have again come across similar situations. Attempts to promote a model of unilateral domination, as I have said on numerous occasions, have led to an imbalance in the system of international law and global regulation, which means there is a threat, and political, economic or military competition may get out of control.

What, for instance, could such uncontrolled competition mean for international security? A growing number of regional conflicts, especially in ‘border’ areas, where the interests of major nations or blocs meet. This can also lead to the probable downfall of the system of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (which I also consider to be very dangerous), which, in turn, would result in a new spiral of the arms race.

We have already seen the appearance of the concept of the so-called disarming first strike, including one with the use of high-precision long-range non-nuclear weapons comparable in their effect to nuclear weapons.

The use of the threat of a nuclear missile attack from Iran as an excuse, as we know, has destroyed the fundamental basis of modern international security – the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The United States has unilaterally seceded from the treaty. Incidentally, today we have resolved the Iranian issue and there is no threat from Iran and never has been, just as we said.

The thing that seemed to have led our American partners to build an anti-missile defence system is gone. It would be reasonable to expect work to develop the US anti-missile defence system to come to an end as well. What is actually happening? Nothing of the kind, or actually the opposite – everything continues.

Recently the United States conducted the first test of the anti-missile defence system in Europe. What does this mean? It means we were right when we argued with our American partners. They were simply trying yet again to mislead us and the whole world. To put it plainly, they were lying. It was not about the hypothetical Iranian threat, which never existed. It was about an attempt to destroy the strategic balance, to change the balance of forces in their favour not only to dominate, but to have the opportunity to dictate their will to all: to their geopolitical competition and, I believe, to their allies as well. This is a very dangerous scenario, harmful to all, including, in my opinion, to the United States.

The nuclear deterrent lost its value. Some probably even had the illusion that victory of one party in a world conflict was again possible – without irreversible, unacceptable, as experts say, consequences for the winner, if there ever is one.

In the past 25 years, the threshold for the use of force has gone down noticeably. The anti-war immunity we have acquired after two world wars, which we had on a subconscious, psychological level, has become weaker. The very perception of war has changed: for TV viewers it was becoming and has now become an entertaining media picture, as if nobody dies in combat, as if people do not suffer and cities and entire states are not destroyed.

Unfortunately, military terminology is becoming part of everyday life. Thus, trade and sanctions wars have become today’s global economic reality – this has become a set phrase used by the media. The sanctions, meanwhile, are often used also as an instrument of unfair competition to put pressure on or completely ‘throw’ competition out of the market. As an example, I could take the outright epidemic of fines imposed on companies, including European ones, by the United States. Flimsy pretexts are being used, and all those who dare violate the unilateral American sanctions are severely punished.

You know, this may not be Russia’s business, but this is a discussion club, therefore I will ask: Is that the way one treats allies? No, this is how one treats vassals who dare act as they wish – they are punished for misbehaving.

Last year a fine was imposed on a French bank to a total of almost $9 billion – $8.9 billion, I believe. Toyota paid $1.2 billion, while the German Commerzbank signed an agreement to pay $1.7 billion into the American budget, and so forth.

We also see the development of the process to create non-transparent economic blocs, which is done following practically all the rules of conspiracy. The goal is obvious – to reformat the world economy in a way that would make it possible to extract a greater profit from domination and the spread of economic, trade and technological regulation standards.

The creation of economic blocs by imposing their terms on the strongest players would clearly not make the world safer, but would only create time bombs, conditions for future conflicts.

The World Trade Organisation was once set up. True, the discussion there is not proceeding smoothly, and the Doha round of talks ended in a deadlock, possibly, but we should continue looking for ways out and for compromise, because only compromise can lead to the creation of a long-term system of relations in any sphere, including the economy. Meanwhile, if we dismiss that the concerns of certain countries – participants in economic communication, if we pretend that they can be bypassed, the contradictions will not go away, they will not be resolved, they will remain, which means that one day they will make themselves known.

As you know, our approach is different. While creating the Eurasian Economic Union we tried to develop relations with our partners, including relations within the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt initiative. We are actively working on the basis of equality in BRICS, APEC and the G20.

The global information space is also shaken by wars today, in a manner of speaking. The ‘only correct’ viewpoint and interpretation of events is aggressively imposed on people, certain facts are either concealed or manipulated. We are all used to labelling and the creation of an enemy image.

The authorities in countries that seemed to have always appealed to such values as freedom of speech and the free dissemination of information – something we have heard about so often in the past – are now trying to prevent the spreading of objective information and any opinion that differs from their own; they declare it hostile propaganda that needs to be combatted, clearly using undemocratic means.

Unfortunately, we hear the words war and conflict ever more frequently when talking about relations between people of different cultures, religions and ethnicity. Today hundreds of thousands of migrants are trying to integrate into a different society without a profession and without any knowledge of the language, traditions and culture of the countries they are moving to. Meanwhile, the residents of those countries – and we should openly speak about this, without trying to polish things up – the residents are irritated by the dominance of strangers, rising crime rate, money spent on refugees from the budgets of their countries.

Many people sympathise with the refugees, of course, and would like to help them. The question is how to do it without infringing on the interests of the residents of the countries where the refugees are moving. Meanwhile, a massive uncontrolled shocking clash of different lifestyles can lead, and already is leading to growing nationalism and intolerance, to the emergence of a permanent conflict in society.

Colleagues, we must be realistic: military power is, of course, and will remain for a long time still an instrument of international politics. Good or bad, this is a fact of life. The question is, will it be used only when all other means have been exhausted? When we have to resist common threats, like, for instance, terrorism, and will it be used in compliance with the known rules laid down in international law. Or will we use force on any pretext, even just to remind the world who is boss here, without giving a thought about the legitimacy of the use of force and its consequences, without solving problems, but only multiplying them.

We see what is happening in the Middle East. For decades, maybe even centuries, inter-ethnic, religious and political conflicts and acute social issues have been accumulating here. In a word, a storm was brewing there, while attempts to forcefully rearrange the region became the match that lead to a real blast, to the destruction of statehood, an outbreak of terrorism and, finally, to growing global risks.

A terrorist organisation, the so-called Islamic State, took huge territories under control. Just think about it: if they occupied Damascus or Baghdad, the terrorist gangs could achieve the status of a practically official power, they would create a stronghold for global expansion. Is anyone considering this? It is time the entire international community realised what we are dealing with – it is, in fact, an enemy of civilisation and world culture that is bringing with it an ideology of hatred and barbarity, trampling upon morals and world religious values, including those of Islam, thereby compromising it.

We do not need wordplay here; we should not break down the terrorists into moderate and immoderate ones. It would be good to know the difference. Probably, in the opinion of certain experts, it is that the so-called moderate militants behead people in limited numbers or in some delicate fashion.

In actual fact, we now see a real mix of terrorist groups. True, at times militants from the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other Al-Qaeda heirs and splinters fight each other, but they fight for money, for feeding grounds, this is what they are fighting for. They are not fighting for ideological reasons, while their essence and methods remain the same: terror, murder, turning people into a timid, frightened, obedient mass.

In the past years the situation has been deteriorating, the terrorists’ infrastructure has been growing, along with their numbers, while the weapons provided to the so-called moderate opposition eventually ended up in the hands of terrorist organisations. Moreover, sometimes entire bands would go over to their side, marching in with flying colours, as they say.

Why is it that the efforts of, say, our American partners and their allies in their struggle against the Islamic State has not produced any tangible results? Obviously, this is not about any lack of military equipment or potential. Clearly, the United States has a huge potential, the biggest military potential in the world, only double crossing [translation on video: a double gameis never easy. You declare war on terrorists and simultaneously try to use some of them to arrange the figures on the Middle East board in your own interests, as you may think.

It is impossible to combat terrorism in general if some terrorists are used as a battering ram to overthrow the regimes that are not to one’s liking. You cannot get rid of those terrorists, it is only an illusion to think you can get rid of them later, take power away from them or reach some agreement with them. The situation in Libya is the best example here.

Let us hope that the new government will manage to stabilise the situation, though this is not a fact yet. However, we need to assist in this stabilisation.

To be continued.

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50548

Meeting of Syrian President Assad with President Putin in Moscow October 20

From en.Kremlin.ru

President of Syria Bashar Assad made a working visit to Moscow on October 20. Russian-Syrian talks in narrow and expanded format with top Russian officials took place at the Kremlin.  With President of Syria Bashar al-Assad.

President of Syria Bashar al-Assad.
Vladimir Putin: Mr President,

Let me wish you a warm welcome to Moscow. Despite the dramatic situation in your country, you have responded to our request and come here to Russia, and we thank you for this.

We took the decision upon your request to provide effective aid to the Syrian people in fighting the international terrorists who have unleashed a genuine war against Syria. The Syrian people has been practically alone in putting up resistance and fighting these international terrorists for several years now, and has suffered great losses. Lately though, there have been some major positive results in this fight.

The attempts by international terrorists to bring whole swathes of territory in the Middle East under their control and destabilise the situation in the region raise legitimate concerns in many countries around the world. This is a matter of concern for Russia too, given that sadly, people from the former Soviet Union, around 4,000 people at least, have taken up arms and are fighting on Syrian territory against the government forces. Of course, we cannot let these people gain combat experience and go through ideological indoctrination and then return to Russia.

On the question of a settlement in Syria, our position is that positive results in military operations will lay the base for then working out a long-term settlement based on a political process that involves all political forces, ethnic and religious groups. Ultimately, it is the Syrian people alone who must have the deciding voice here.

Syria is Russia’s friend and we are ready to make our contribution not only to the military operations and the fight against terrorism, but also to the political process. We would do this, of course, in close contact with the other global powers and with the countries in the region that want to see a peaceful settlement to this conflict.

Once again, I wish you welcome, Mr President.

President of Syria Bashar al-Assad(retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President.

First of all, I want to express our tremendous gratitude to the Russian leadership and people for the help they are providing Syria. Thank you for supporting Syria’s unity and independence. Most important of all is that this is being done within the framework of international law.

I must say that the political steps the Russian Federation has been taking since the start of the crisis made it possible to prevent events in Syria from taking an even more tragic turn. If it were not for your actions and decisions, the terrorism that is spreading through the region now would have made even greater gains and spread to even wider territories. You have confirmed your course of action by joining in the military operations as part of a common front in the fight against terrorism.

Of course, we all know that any military action must be followed by political steps. Of course, our common goal is to bring about the vision the Syrian people have of their own country’s future.

We must be particularly aware that military strikes against the terrorists are essential above all because we must fight terrorism, and also because terrorism is a real obstacle on the road to reaching a political settlement. Of course, the entire nation wants to take part in deciding the country’s fate, and not just the government.

I want to thank the Russian people once more for the help you are giving Syria and express the hope that we will vanquish terrorism and continue working together to rebuild our country economically and politically and ensure peaceful life for everyone.

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Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu during Russian-Syrian talks.

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50533