SPANISH AMBASSADOR TO MOSCOW: IT IS ALL SADDAM HUSSEIN’S FAULT

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SPANISH AMBASSADOR TO MOSCOW: IT IS ALL SADDAM HUSSEIN’S FAULT

Izvestia, March 27, 2003, p. 1 EV

Ambassador of Spain Jose Maria Robles Fraga told us why Spain has supported Washington from the very start of the Iraq conflict.

Question: Why did Spain unconditionally support the war action against Iraq?

Answer: Spain is a member of the UN Security Council and had to give a definite, unambiguous answer. We could not hide behind the backs of others. Spain has always stood for implementation of resolutions issued by the Security Council – 678, 687 and 1441. If resolutions are adopted, they must be enforced. We did our best to let the Iraq problem be solved within the framework of the United Nations.

Question: Does Resolution 1441 contain any provisions for the use of military force?

Answer: It reads that all previous resolutions demanding disarmament of Iraq remain in force, but Iraq did not. According to it, Iraq had a last chance to do that, otherwise he would be in for very serious circumstances. Within the Security Council there are different interpretations of the last from the above cited statements. Fifteen resolutions on Iraq have been passed over the past twelve years, however. Thereby, the position of Spain in this matter is wholly justified. It is all Saddam Hussein’s fault that the whole stock of possible diplomatic means was exhausted.

Question: The Iraq problem has caused disunity in Europe. Aren’t you afraid that now it will be more difficult for EU member-states to find a common language on foreign policy issues?

Answer: I hope this won’t happen. European countries have different opinions on the Iraq problem, but the EU has considerably advanced over the past few years. I believe that it was critical situations like this and their discussion that consolidated the alliance. There has been debate recently about EU development and expansion. It is a question whether this process is evidence of emerging strategic rivalry between Europe and the United States. Or does it mean that the EU must remain the principal ally of the US? Spain supports the second idea.

PARTY AND PRESIDENT

Izvestia, March 27, 2003, p. 3 EV

President Putin met in the Kremlin yesterday with leaders of the United Russia party – Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, and President Mintimer Shaimieyv of Tatarstan. Leaders of the centrist factions of the Duma – Vyacheslav Volodin, Vladimir Pekhtin and Oleg Morozov – attended the meeting as well.

There was a serious reason for the meeting: the second congress of United Russia will take place on March 29. In many aspects the congress may be regarded as a milestone for the party. In fact, it needs to decide on its strategy and policy for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

In the president’s words, every party sets itself one practical goal, which is to win the election. Putin observed that for the time being parties tend to fall into inaction as soon as the second day after an election. He called this situation “absolutely unacceptable and inadmissible”.

FEDERATION COUNCIL LABELS U.S. ACTIONS IN IRAQ AS "AGGRESSION"

Izvestia, March 27, 2003, p. 3 EV

Summing up its plenary session on Wednesday, the Federation Council amended its statement on the situation in Iraq. After a debate of nearly an hour, most senators decided to replace the term “military action” with “aggression” in the text of the statement. One hundred and one senators voted in favor of the change, disregarding the arguments of Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov and international affairs committee chairman Mikhail Margelov, who maintained that the term “aggression” could be applied to the military campaign led by the US and Britain in Iraq only after the UN Security Council officially acknowledges it.

INTERIOR TROOPS TO BECOME NATIONAL GUARDS AFTER 2005

Izvestia, March 27, 2003, p. 3 EV

Russia’s interior troops (police) will be transformed into the National Guard after 2005, according to Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, commander of the Interior Troops at the Interior Ministry. “This program may exist, but it will be implemented after 2005,” Tikhomirov announced at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday. He explained that there are two preconditions for the transformation of the interior troops: legal provisions (including permission to carry out task operations and investigations) and technical re-equipment of the forces.

AIR FORCE SEEING MORE FINANCIAL OFFENCES

Izvestia, March 27, 2003, p. 3 EV

The volume of material losses and financial offences in the Russian Air Force has increased. “In 2002 the Air Force suffered material losses to a total of 170 million rubles, which is a 50% increase over 2001,” a source in the Chief Financial Department of the Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday to the Interfax-AVN Agency. The volume of financial offences grew as well and exceeded 30 million rubles, the source said.

IN THE GRIP OF "THE GREAT SATAN"

Izvestia, March 27, 2003

Iranian politicians have been more tense than ever this week. Tehran has already lodged “a strong protest” with both fighting forces – Iraq and the anti-Saddam Hussein coalition – regarding bombing of its territory. President Khatami’s brother, Seyed Mohammed Reza, made what seems to be the most scathing statement addressed to Washington and London. In his words, overthrowing Saddam Hussein “will result in the replacement of an Iraqi dictator with an American one”.

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