Rome: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called today for the world to unite against terrorism in the way the western allies and the Soviet Union forged an anti-Nazi alliance in World War II.
“If our priority is defeating terrorism, we must put everything secondary on the side, as we did in World War II,” Lavrov told a conference on Mediterranean security in Rome. “All ideologies were put aside and a coalition was created.”
Lavrov argued this clarity of objective was missing from the international community’s response to Syria’s civil war, where Western demands that President Bashar Assad cede power were, in his view, an error.
“Because of Assad they leave ISIS (Islamic State) to expand,” he said, saying questions about the future leadership of the country should be left for Syrians themselves to decide.
Lavrov said the same principle applied to Libya, the subject of an international conference in Rome on Sunday which will seek to advance moves towards the formation of a national unity government.
“It is impossible to resolve this issue from the outside,” he said, warning against the danger of trying to use the threat of sanctions as a way of coercing the country’s rival factions into compliance with the international community’s wishes.
“When sanctions are used to substitute for diplomacy, it is wrong. We are losing a culture of diplomacy and persuasion.”
Lavrov said Iraq, Libya and Yemen should all stand as warnings of the risks involved in trying to exert change from the outside. “All three countries are now in much worse shape than before regime change,” he said.
“You have to be clear about priorities. The reluctance to fight a common evil to us is not pragmatic, it is highly ideological.