Future of Syria, not Assad important: Russia leader
Russia desires to see a solution that would save the region and Syria from didisintegration, as well as a never-ending Civil War, says President Putin. EPA photo
Moscow is worried about the possibility of a perpetual war in Syria rather than the ultimate fate of President Bashar al-Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday.
“We are not concerned about the fate of al-Assad’s regime. We understand what is going on there and that the family has held power for 40 years. Undoubtedly, there is a call for changes,” Putin told a news conference.
“We are worried about a different thing – what next? We simply don’t want the current opposition, having become the authorities, to start fighting the people who are the current authorities ... and [we don’t want] this to go on forever.”
Putin also said he did not believe that a military solution could hold while adding that the Syrian people would ultimately decide their own fate.
“We are for a solution being found to the problem that would save the region and the country from, firstly, falling apart and from a never-ending civil war. Our position is not to keep al-Assad and his regime in power at any cost,” he said, adding that they wanted to prevent Syria from disintegrating.
Putin’s comments came less than a week after Russia’s chief Middle East envoy said it appeared that al-Assad would not be able to fend off the rebels much longer.
The Foreign Ministry later denied an official shift in Russia’s position toward al-Assad and noted that Moscow still recognized the country’s current government.
Russia remains one of Damascus’ last major allies and has shielded al-Assad from U.N. sanctions aimed at punishing him for his use of heavy force against militants.
Separately, Putin denied running an authoritarian system, saying he had many chances to change the Constitution during his rule, but never did.
“I cannot call this system authoritarian, I cannot agree with this,” Putin said at the same conference.
“If I considered a totalitarian or authoritarian system preferable, I would simply have changed the Constitution, it was easy enough to do, it doesn’t even require any sort of national vote,” Putin said.
“It was enough to take this decision through the Parliament,” Putin said. “It was a conscious decision on my part to step down to second position.”
He added that he “didn’t have the goal of coming back in four years” as “nobody knew what would happen once the [financial] crisis began.
Putin also shared his vision of what democracy is. “We have this notion that democracy is Trotskyism, anarchy. But that is not so,” he said. “Democracy is first and foremost obeying the law.”
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.