• Position : Chairman of the Executive Board
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
  • Affiliation : Prof., Acad., Russian Academy of Sciences, Academic Director, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
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Trialogue Club International held a meeting on settlement of the Syrian conflict


MOSCOW, APRIL 23, 2018. PIR PRESS – “Prof. Naumkin is not only an academic and a key Russian expert on the Middle East, but he has also a deep practical insight into Russian interests in the region. This particular experience makes his presentation at once unique and very valuable. We highly appreciate the idea to make the Swiss Embassy the venue for this special meeting of the Trialogue Club International.”, - Col. Bruno Russi, Swiss Defense Attaché and Dean of the Defense Attachés Corps in Moscow.

On April 18, 2018, Trialogue Club International and the Embassy of Switzerland in Russia held a joint discussion meeting on the “Settlement of the Syrian Conflict: Prospects for National Dialogue and International Cooperation. Rationale behind Russian Policies.” The keynote speaker was Prof. Vitaly Naumkin, President of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 2015 Prof. Naumkin was a moderator of the Inter-Syrian Moscow meeting and in 2016 acted as a senior adviser to the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, performing an important role in the Geneva peace talks on Syria.

The meeting was attended by diplomats, military attaches, and Russian experts and scholars. Evgeny Buzhinskiy, Chairman of the Trialogue Club International and the Chairman of PIR Center’s Executive Board, moderated the meeting. He also welcomed representatives from the Embassies of Canada and Italy as new members and Prof. Vitaly Naumkin and Dr. Victor Sumsky, Director of the ASEAN Centre in MGIMO University, the MFA of Russia, as honorary members of the Trialogue Club International.

Prof. Naumkin made an overview of the conflict in Syria and analyzed the recent developments of the crisis at different levels. On the local level, he pointed out the internal dispute between the Syrian government and the opposition groups, as well as the impact of terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Regarding the regional level, he highlighted the conflictual relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. He also emphasized that nothing can be done to solve the conflict without some sort of rapprochement between the two countries. On the global level, Prof. Naumkin referred to the role played by Russia and the United States, as well as to the current cooperation on the ground, in spite of the difficult times of the bilateral relations. He underlined the fact that regional and global actors are trying to allocate different groups in their zones of influence, situation that is causing additional difficulties.

Prof. Naumkin concluded his keynote speech by mentioning that even if the current situation is not very encouraging, there are three formats in which negotiations between relevant regional and global actors are taking place – the Geneva talks, the Astana talks, and the Sochi Congress. After the keynote speech, the participants engaged in a lively discussion on the presentation. PIR Center’s Founder and Special Advisor, Professor of MGIMO University, Dr. Vladimir Orlov, recalled the participants that the situation in Middle East is also related to weapons of mass destruction, not only chemical but also nuclear. In that regard, he made reference to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the impacts of a potential withdrawal of the United States, and the establishment of a WMD free zone in the Middle East and the lack of progress in talks.

As part of his concluding remarks, Evgeny Buzhinskiy referred to the latest US strikes against several objectives in Syria: “From the military point of view, these air strikes were certainly harmless, even in comparison with last year’s strikes. This time the strikes hit a couple of empty buildings, a harmless research center that was also empty and inflicted no casualties. So, it was a political demonstration and a signal.” He also mentioned that the absence of casualties during the attacks means that the deconflicting mechanism and channels of communication are working. However, Evgeny Buzhinskiy warned that if a conflict between United States and Russia starts, even as a result of an unintentional attack against Russian military forces in Syria, “this conflict would lead to extremely unprecedented consequences.”

To become a Member of the Trialogue Club International in 2018, participate in the future meetings and receive exclusive analytics bulletin Russia Confidential and other materials from the Trialogue Club International and its partners please contact the Club Secretary Yuliya Tseshkovskaya by phone: +7 (985) 764-98-96 or email: [email protected].