Russian amb. rejects reports on Iran, Turkey, Russia agreement on removal of Assad

MNA – Rejecting some reports on Iran, Russia and Turkey’s agreement to remove Syrian President from the power, Russian ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan told Mehr News Agency that the future of President Assad and Syria will be decided by Syrian people through free transparent elections, not by us.

To shed more light on the ongoing developments in the region and some rumors circulating around, Mehr News Agency reached out to Levan Dzhagaryan, the Russian Federation ambassador to Tehran, and discussed the issues in a friendly atmosphere with him.

Here is the full text of the interview:

As you know Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian Leader Ayatollah Khamenei have met and definitely, you have been one of the members of the delegation. Has there been anything special for you during the visits that may be interesting for our readers?

I have been here as Russian ambassador for a long time. I think this period has been the best period of our bilateral relations and the most contribution was made by our leaders, President Putin, Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, and President Rouhani and Russian ambassador who has been appointed here in November 2011. Of course, you correctly mentioned that I was part of the Russian delegation during a series of visits of President Putin here in 2015, 2017, and 2018. Also, I was part of a Russian delegation during the visit of President Rouhani to Russia.

The best and the most interesting issue of those moments for me is the atmosphere during the meetings. The atmospheres of the meetings were very cordial, friendly, sincere, and honest. Such cordial personal relations inspired the officials of both countries to work more actively. It is in the interest of both countries and both peoples.

President Putin’s vision of Iran is very positive and kind and the same thing was said by our Iranian friends at different levels.

Definitely, you have met Martyr Lt. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. As a person that has been familiar with him closely. If I ask you to talk about his personality and characteristics very briefly, which part of his characteristics was the most important and significant for you?

First of all, I should remind you that we presented our condolences when he was killed as a result of the American attack. we sharply criticized it. For us, Mr. Soliemani was one of the military high ranking officials who was very famous for his brave fighting against terrorists not only in Syria. He played a key role in Syria and his activities were highly appreciated.

Once again, I would like to express my very sad feeling for the tragic event, again.

How do you assess the US regional policy in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region? 

Generally, it is destructive. We have a conflicting system in Syria and we try to avoid any conflict with the US troops in Syria. they have deployed their forces in the country. Once again, I would like to stress that their presence in Syria is illegal.  Who has invited them to Syria? Nobody. They are part of occupation forces. They are stealing Syria’s oil.

They also have a destructive role in other parts of the region. Iraqi people and parliament asked US to withdraw its troops from this country. Their role is not only destructive in the Middle East but also all over the world. We expect Americans to be realistic and pragmatic.

First of all, they imposed illegal sanctions on Iran and caused a lot of problems for Iranian people. These sanctions are not only illegal regarding Iran they also include Russia, Venezuela, and some other countries. It’s a very unfair political game.

How do you see the future of Syria politically and economically? 

You know, there are some speculations as if Russia isn’t happy with President Assad. There are some rumors. Maybe, some people who have no political position have declared such views. But such views are their personal views which don’t reflect any official positions as a Russian government.

I would like to stress that we will continue our support for the political process in Syria. We will support the legitimate government of Syria. The future of the country belongs to the Syrian people. Only Syrian people are the decision-makers of their country.

Also, I would like to highly appreciate the joint efforts by Astana format member countries, Russia, Turkey, and Iran. We are the main players on the ground. Thanks to our trilateral efforts military operation on Syria’s ground stopped and paved the away for forces to start negotiations. Hopefully, after this pandemic is over, the political process will continue.

As you told, Iran, Russia, and Turkey are working very hard to solve the problems in Syria. But the US intervention is interrupting all these efforts. Considering its intervention in Syria, how do you see the future?

We are diplomats and diplomats must be optimistic. I would like to say the process of Astana has been successful and the US did its utmost to destroy it but anyway all their efforts are vain. I think all countries, Russia, Turkey, and Iran will successfully continue efforts to bring back peace to Syria.

Nowadays, some media like the al-Monitor claim that Iran, Russia and, Turkey have agreed to remove President Assad from power. Do you confirm these rumors?

We are not the countries to decide the future of Syrian people and President Assad. Once again, I would like to confirm our position. The future of President Assad and Syria will be decided by Syrian people through free transparent elections. As friendly foreign countries, we must help Syrian people to restart peace and pave the way for the continuation of the political process in this country.

Why these kinds of rumors are being circulated?

Of course, these kinds of rumors have been circulated by hostile countries that are against the successful activity of Astana format. These countries are against international law and want to remove a legitimate regime by force, not as a result of an election. If any government doesn’t suit the US and its ally, so they impose sanctions and try to remove it illegally.

There are some rumors. It is said that Mr. Putin is not satisfied with Syrian President Assad and considers him an ungrateful person. What’s your opinion about the sayings?

Nobody from political officials has said it. Maybe, some people who are not official said these rumors. Of course, we have a free country, and freedom of speech is highly respected in Russia as well as in other democratic countries. Those people who don’t have official positions, they can express their personal point of view. But as I mentioned it, only official representatives of the Russian government, presidential administration, and the foreign minister of the Russian Federation can express the official political position of Russia.

Once again, I would like to say we have very good relations with Bashar al-Assad and his legitimate government and we will continue our cooperation.

Turkish government from one side is working with the US and from the other side is working with Russia and Iran. They are under very strong pressure from the US to put aside the S-400 missile defense system which they have bought from Russia. A couple of weeks ago, Turkey announced that they are not going to install this system under the excuse of the coronavirus outbreak. Also, we see that the US and Turkey are getting closer in Idlib. It seems that Ankara is little by little succumbing to US pressure. How do you see Turkey’s role in the crisis of Syria? If Turkey gets closer to the US, will this fact affect Turkey’s relations with Russia?

I would like to remind that Turkey is a member of NATO and is part of the military bloc. On the other hand, Turkey is an independent country and has an independent foreign policy. Turkish President Erdogan has several times proved that he is an independent political leader. For example, when he decided to buy the Russian S-400 system. Of course, nowadays many countries have very serious problems with this coronavirus pandemic and they have stopped many of their activities in many fields including military ones. That’s why we can understand these difficulties. It’s not only in Turkey, but in many countries like Iran, Russia, and etc.

On the other hand, I don’t think Turkey will succumb to the pressure of the US. I would like to remind you that during the fight in Idlib at the beginning of March, Turkey and Russia managed to come to an agreement which was reached in Moscow in March on Idlib and both sides observed it. I would like to remind you also we are now witnessing the joint patrol by Turkish and Russian troops in F-4 highway. So, I would like to use this opportunity once again to express our satisfaction with the level of our cooperation with our Turkish partner.

What’s the importance of Libya for Russia? Turkey and Russia in Libya are siding two different sides that are fighting with each other. Can your differences there affect your cooperation in Syria?

Well, you remember that we managed to invite to Moscow Mr. al-Sarraj and Mr. Haftar when Turkish colleagues were in Moscow, We try to bridge the gaps between two sides and also to participate it in Berlin.

We have links with both sides of the conflict and we do believe it’s necessary to observe agreements. We are in favor of active efforts by the United Nations. Unfortunately, the special envoy of the United Nations Mr. Salamé retired and we do believe that it would be better to appoint a new one as soon as possible from the region that knows the regional realities quite well. I don’t want to comment on Turkish policy in Libya. Maybe it is pursuing its national interests. Even among European Union countries, there is no unity. Libya

Once again, I would like to remind you that as a country, Libya was destroyed by the US allies in 2011 contrary to international law. They have created chaos and they have destroyed the Libyan government. Now they should be accountable for the issue.

Recently the US is trying to introduce itself as a participant to JCPOA in order to reactivate the snapback mechanism and extend Iran’s arms embargo. Do you think the US will be successful to reach its goal?

You know it is an illegal attempt because they violated international law, as well as violated article 24 of the UN Charter. Now it is celebrating the second anniversary of their withdrawal from the JPCOA, so they have no right to say anything. It’s a deal. So it looks very funny. As a member of JCPOA, you cannot be partly a member. 

So we don’t see any legal ground for the US to say anything as the JCPOA member. So it’s better for them to keep silent.  Not only they quitted JCPOA, but they also tried to prevent other countries to continue cooperation with Iran.

Also, I would like to mention Iran’s arms embargo which expires in October 2020. Once again, we don’t see any reason to extend this arms embargo against Iran because initially, JCPOA had nothing to do with this arms embargo. So according to international law, the US had no say in this issue.

How did you find Iranian infrastructure in fighting against COVID-19?

I think you are very successful in this regard. Of course, we hear a lot of criticism but it’s natural. But in comparison to some other countries, Iranians are almost successful. I wish all the best for our friendly Iranian people to overcome difficulties which were caused not only by illegal sanctions of the US but also this pandemic. We have very good cooperation with Iran. We also continue to send our humanitarian aid to Iran. Recently, a special flight brought some materials for producing masks in Iran. We expect two flights to arrive in Iran to bring humanitarian aid for Iranian people.

Interview by Payman Yazdani & Zahra Mirzafarjouyan