Final Communiqué of the Third Session of the Arab-Russian Cooperation Forum at the level of Foreign Ministers

The Third Session of the Arab-Russian Cooperation Forum at the level of Foreign Ministers was held on 26/02/2016 in Moscow. The meeting was headed by H.E. Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (host country), H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates (Current Chair of the Arab League Ministerial Council), and H.E. Dr. Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. The Members of the Forum’s Mechanism at LAS: H.E. Mr. Ziad AlMajali, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Moscow (Former Chair of the Arab League Ministerial Council), H.E. Mr. Waheed Mubarak Sayyar, Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of Bahrain for Regional Affairs and GCC (Next Chair of the Arab League Ministerial Council) H.E. Mr. Tarek ElKouny, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Representative of Arab Republic of Egypt to LAS (Current Chair of the Arab Summit). Their Excellencies Mr. Abdelkader Messahel, Minister of Maghreb Affairs, the African Union and LAS of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, H.E. Mr. Yousif bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, H.E. Mr. Mohammed Al-Dairi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the State of Libya, H.E. Prof. Ibrahim Ghandour, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Sudan, H.E. Mr. Abd El Malek El Makhlafy, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Yemen also attended the Third Session of the Forum.

The Ministers reviewed the outcome of the Second Session of the Arab-Russian Cooperation Forum, held on 03/12/2014 in Khartoum/ Sudan, and the Action Plan that aims at the implementation of the Forum’s principles and objectives; and welcomed the existing dialogue and cooperation between both sides. Ministers also discussed the latest developments in the Middle East and the region, a number of pressing international issues of common concern, the bilateral and multilateral relations related to political, economic and cultural issues between Member States of LAS and the Russian Federation to strengthening ties and cooperation and build a true partnership between both sides, through capacity-building, innovation, technical and cultural exchange. Taking into account the need to work on the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action 2016-2018, to facilitating the coordination of regional visions on international issues and support the implementation of cooperation programmes in sectoral areas, and agreed to:

Regional and International Issues

Stress the need for strengthening political dialogue aimed at coordinating common positions in the international fora, within the frame of respecting principles of international law and international legitimacy, relevant principles and purposes of the Charter and Conventions of the United Nations, and the pivotal role of the UN and Security Council to resolve disputes, safeguarding international peace and security. Affirm their commitment to the promotion and respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, taking into account the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds. Stress the need for full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of countries, the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs and good-neighborly relations, call for the settlement of outstanding issues and crisis through peaceful means and comprehensive dialogue.

1. Reiterate their unwavering commitment to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the full realization that the materialization of the two-state solution is a cornerstone to peace, security and prosperity in the Middle East region, and that it shall not be undermined by the current challenges in the region. They agreed that the current situation cannot be prolonged, and acknowledged that any escalation of the current dire situation will have unprecedented repercussions.

Emphasize the urgency of increased international efforts to have comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the universally recognized international legal framework including respective 224, 238 UN Security Council Resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative, to safeguard the two-state solution that will lead to the materialization of the independent and sovereign State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital based on the pre-1967 borders. The Arab Minsters commended the efforts exerted by the Russian Federation within the Quartet to maintain its central role in the peace efforts, and expressed their support for its full participation in those efforts.

Call on the current Israeli government to withhold all its illegal and provocative actions and human rights violations. Express their deep concern over the continuous Israeli de-facto actions and regulations in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif and throughout East Jerusalem that aim at changing the status quo in the city altering the demographic, religious and historic nature of the city. Reiterate their position that the continuous building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal and constitutes a grave breach of International Law and an immense danger towards the realization of a contiguous and viable Palestinian State. While rejecting the terrorist acts, condemn Israeli illegal practices against unarmed Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories by using excessive and unjustified force, imposing prolonged administrative detention, committing extra-judicial killings upon suspicion especially against children. Call on the Israeli government to refrain from providing political and logistical support to violent settlers and their atrocities against Palestinians and their private property as well as Islamic and Christian holy sites. Value the significant role being played by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the Holy city of Jerusalem and its custodian role in the holy sites as specified in the agreement signed between His Majesty King Abdullah II, the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine and strongly urge the Israeli government to abide by the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

Reiterate their deep concern over the grave humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip resulted from the illegally imposed Israeli closure and hindering reconstruction efforts, aggravating the living conditions for the population. Agree on the urgency to immediately lift the closure and all restrictions imposed on humanitarian aid and construction materials that are indispensable for reconstruction efforts. Commend the current inter-Palestinian reconciliation efforts, and acknowledge the importance of formulating a government working under the umbrella of P.L.O. political platform.

2. While welcoming all efforts in combatting terrorism in full recognition of the UN central role and in accordance with the UN Charter reaffirm the will to remain united in combatting terrorism and to work together to prevent and suppress terrorist acts through the full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, in particular 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2199 (2015) and 2253 (2015) and UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, support the efforts of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) towards reaching a consensus on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), at the earliest.

Condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, reaffirming that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, and reject associating terrorism with any religion, culture or ethnic group, emphasize the need for concerted regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and to address factors conductive to its spread, eliminate the sources and any kind of support of terrorism and violent extremism including its funding, as well as combating organized cross-border crime.

Strongly condemn the kidnapping of innocent civilians, such as Qataris, Egyptians and Russians, and demand their immediate and unconditional release.

Support the activities of the United Nations International Center for Counter-Terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations, with the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Late King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Welcome the efforts undertaken by LAS towards the adoption of comprehensive and coordinated tactics at both national and regional levels to combat terrorism.

Support the initiative put forward by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to establish a large-scale anti-terrorist front based on international legal standards and the UN Charter and operating with the consent and in close coordination with regional states that bear the brunt of burden in resisting terrorists and extremists.

Welcome counterterrorism efforts undertaken by various international fora, including the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) under the auspices of the UN.

Welcome the International Center of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism in Abu Dhabi, and the Centre to Tackle ISIL on Social Media in Abu Dhabi.

Commend the work of the Africa Center for Studies and Research on Terrorism in Algeria, and take note of the outcome of the International Conference on Fighting Extremism hosted by Algeria on 22-23 July 2015 and the initiative launched by the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt at the High Level of the 70th Session of the UNGA titled “Hope and Action for a New Direction” (HAND) to counter Extremism and Terrorism. Welcome the outcome of the “International Conference on Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Fighting Extremism” hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain in November 2014, and the outcome of the workshop on “Charitable Donations and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Violent Extremism” hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain in November 2015. Value the importance of the Valdai Discussion Club activities under the topic “Societies between War and Peace: Overcoming the Logic of Conflict in Tomorrow’s World” hosted by the Russian Federation in October 2015 and its Special session “Middle East: to break the cycle of violence” with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin delivering a speech on the most pressing and challenging threats facing the world and the Middle East in particular today. Praise the conference “The Middle East: From Violence to Security” held under the auspices of the Valdai Discussion Club hosted by the Russian Federation in February, 2016.

Commend the outcome of the consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the General Secretariat of the OIC held in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in January 2015 on the issue of combatting terrorism, extremism and organized crime and welcome the forthcoming consultations in Moscow, Russian Federation in March 2016.

3. Strongly stress the need to preserve the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability of Syria and the importance of reaching a political solution to the crisis that preserves the lives of Syrians and leads to cessation of hostilities on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and the agreements adopted by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG).

Hail the Joint statement of the Russian Federation and the United States of America as co-sponsors of ISSG on the terms of cessation of hostilities in Syria, as a unique chance to end the conflict and destruction in Syria.

Call on all Syrian parties to abide by this agreement. Terrorist groups that are designated by the UN Security Council should be fought categorically.

Strongly condemn all terrorist acts targeting Syria and committed by “Da`esh”, “Al-Nusra Front” and other terrorist groups as designated by the UN Security Council involved in the killing and genocide, forced displacement of the Syrian people being targeted on a religious or ethnic basis, destruction of monuments, shrines, churches, mosques and cultural heritage sites, which are all considered as crimes against humanity. Reiterate condemnation of all practices that would threaten the territorial integrity of Syria and its social cohesion.

Pay tribute to the UN efforts, international organizations, countries including Kuwait, to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of Syrian people. Urge them in this context to continue providing support and assistance to Arab neighboring countries of Syria: Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, in addition to Egypt and Sudan for hosting Syrian refugees.

4. Reaffirm commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya, in accordance with the principle of non-interference in its internal affairs. Express deep concern on the expanding activities of terrorist groups in the country, extend support to the ongoing political process and the efforts made in this regard by Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Libya.

Welcome the Sokhirat Agreement on political solution to the crisis in Libya that was initiated by most Libyan political forces in July 2015, and appreciate the efforts of the Kingdom of Morocco in facilitating this agreement. Welcome the signing of Libya Political Agreement (LPA) on 17 December 2015, endorsement of the agreement by UN Security Council Resolution 2259 (2015). Call upon the House of Representatives to endorse the Government of National Accord and its establishment in the capital Tripoli.

Call upon all Libyans to support full implementation of LPA and UN Security Council Resolution 2259. And note the efforts exerted by the neighbouring countries to Libya to facilitate the Intra Libyan dialogue.

5. Affirm their full commitment to safeguard the unity and territorial integrity of Yemen, and respect for its sovereignty and independence, to reject interference in its internal affairs, to stand by the Yemeni people and their aspirations for freedom, democracy and social justice. Reaffirm the relevant Security Council Resolutions, especially UN Security Council Resolutions 2201 (2015) and 2216 (2015). Call upon all Yemeni parties to settle disputes through dialogue and consultation and to facilitate humanitarian assistance operations in this regard, take note of the establishment of "King Salman Center for Charity and Humanitarian Relief".

Express deep concern about dire humanitarian situation in Yemen which continues to worsen. Affirm the importance of implementing the GCC initiative and its implementation mechanisms and the outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference and asserted support for the United Nations efforts and the role of its Special Envoy to Yemen.

6. Stress the need to respect the national unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Lebanon, and call on Israel for immediate and unconditional implementation of UN Security Council Resolution (1701).

Condemn all criminal acts, terrorist groups and bombings, which targeted a number of Lebanese areas, causing death of innocent civilians; rejecting all attempts leading to incite strife and to undermine coexistence, civil peace and national unity and destabilizing security and stability of Lebanon. Reaffirm support for Lebanon and its institutions, particularly the Lebanese army, in confronting the attacks undertaken by terrorist groups. Call upon the international community to support all efforts to resolve the Lebanese crisis through comprehensive political dialogue and national consensus to maintain stability and safety in Lebanon.

7. Strongly condemn all terrorist acts targeting Iraq committed by "Da’esh" and other terrorist groups involved in the killings and genocide, forced displacement to components of the Iraqi people and targeting them on a religious or ethnic basis, destruction of monuments, shrines, churches, mosques and cultural heritage sites, which all considered as crimes against humanity. Reiterate condemnation of all practices that would threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq and its social cohesion.

Express support for the Iraqi Government’s efforts to achieve national unity among Iraqi people, urging the international community to provide every support to the Iraqi Government in its fight against terrorism, emphasize the importance of adhering to respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, political stability and national unity of Iraq; reject interference in its internal affairs.

Support Iraqi proposal to convene an International Conference to support displaced people in Iraq and reconstruction of liberated areas.

Condemn the Turkish Government violation of the Iraqi sovereignty and its military incursion into Iraqi territory; call for the withdrawal of its forces from Iraqi territory immediately and respecting the rules of good-neighbourhood between the two countries.

8. Emphasize the importance that relations between Arab States and the Islamic Republic of Iran be based on the principles of good-neighbourhood, non-interference in internal affairs, respect of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, resolution of disputes through peaceful means, according to UN Charter and International Law and renouncing of and refraining from the use or threat of use of force or provocations that might undermine confidence and threaten security and stability in the region.

9. Emphasize their support for a peaceful solution between Iran and the UAE over the three islands Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa, in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations, including direct negotiations between the two parties.

10. Express their regret that a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction did not take place in 2012 as agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and reaffirm that it is necessary to put efforts aimed at holding the conference. Express also their regret at the failure of the 2015 NPT Review Conference in adopting its final document including a decision on the Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Reaffirm the importance of Israel’s accession to the NPT as soon as possible and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under the IEAE comprehensive safeguards.

11. Welcome the National Dialogue Conference which was launched in Khartoum and call upon the armed movements to stop fighting and engage in this National Dialogue, in response to the initiative of the President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir. Call upon the international concerned parties to fulfill their obligations to support economic development and sustainable peace in Sudan. Call for lifting of the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on Sudan, which hinders achieving the goals of sustainable development and constitutes a violation of the rights of the people of Sudan to development.

12. Express support to the efforts by Federal Somali Government in implementing "Vision of 2016" noting the importance of building the Somali state institutions, and respond to urgent humanitarian needs, and invest in human capacity building, promote long-term solutions in the context of the Federal Government priorities so as to ensure stability in the areas that have been recovered from Al-Shabaab terrorist group, and secure the supply and humanitarian access to new regions liberated.

Emphasize that political progress must continue as part of a comprehensive approach to peace-building in Somalia, and that the protection and promotion of human rights and protection of the most affected groups by armed conflict -including women and children- must be a top priority. Express their support for the initiative of the State of Kuwait for the establishment of international donor conference on education in Somalia.

Thank the African Union and the Arab League for their permanent commitment toward Somalia, praising the role of the Somali National Army (SNA) and the forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in order to achieve peace. Welcome the extension of the UN Security Council delegating the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and AMISOM to support the Federal Government in Somalia. Stress the importance of strengthening consultation and cooperation among representatives and envoys of the UN and the Arab League in political, security, humanitarian and reconstruction areas.

13. Commend the recent positive developments in the democratic transitional process in Egypt, and fulfilling the third phase of the roadmap in organizing legislative elections. Support Egypt’s efforts led by the President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to confront the challenges facing it.

14. Express appreciation for the positive steps achieved in Tunisia in democratic transition through the adoption of a new Constitution and organization of legislative and presidential elections under national consensus, and welcome the award of Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 to the National Dialogue Sponsor Quartet, for its efforts in securing the transitional phase in under national consensus, emphasize the need for supporting Tunisia in this crucial moment of its history. Emphasize the need to support and assist Tunisia in its endeavors to gain its development and security prospects.

15. Stress the need to activate dialogue among civilizations, cultures and religions as a strategic option, including seeking to preserve national identity and cultural privacy, respect for cultural pluralism, so as to contribute to the restoration and deepen concepts of peace, security and justice, promoting the values of tolerance and respect, increasing mutual understanding among the various nations and peoples, confronting all forms of violence and religious extremism, addressing racist manifestations and racial or religious discrimination.

Reaffirm their support for programs and activities notably those carried out by the Group of Strategic Vision “Russia-Islamic World” related to the values of dialogue, cultural and civilizational interaction that contribute to better knowledge and mutual understanding among Russian and Arab peoples, enrich knowledge about the Arab and Russian civilizations and their commonalities, in order to provide a solid popular ground to expand and deepen the Arab-Russian strategic cooperation, based on comprehensive cooperation and common development. Welcome the Award of the Organization for Coexistence between Religions and Civilizations to H.M. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa King of Bahrain, for his contribution and role to the promotion of meaningful dialogue among religions and cultures, mutual respect among peoples and communities, confidence building and understanding, repudiation of hatred; express appreciation to the Kingdom of Bahrain for hosting the Dialogue among Civilizations and Cultures Conference, from 5-7 June 2014, and welcome the outcome contained in the "Bahrain Declaration". Also appraise the role of the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue.

Commend the Lebanese participatory multilateral formula based on equality between Muslims and Christians, coexistence and dialogue among religions; and condemn its cultural opposite represented by terrorist groups, i.e. "Da’esh” and “Al-Nusra Front" as well as those designated as terrorists by the UN Security Council and their crimes against humanity, safeguarding minorities as original and essential components of the social fabric of the countries of the region, and the need to safeguard their rights and values the role of the Lebanese Diaspora in strengthening relations among peoples and nations, particularly in economic and trade areas, notably between Russia and Arab States.

Praise the outcome of the Group of Strategic Vision “Russia-Islamic World” meeting held in Moscow, Russian Federation on June 11-12, 2015 and the negotiations on its sidelines between H.E. Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani, Secretary General of the OIC.

Bilateral cooperation

16. Adopt the Joint Plan of Action 2016-2018, and call for its operationalization, to implement the principles, goals and objectives of the Arab-Russian Cooperation Forum. The Joint High Officials Committee is entrusted with monitoring of the implementation of the Plan of Action and submitting regular reports on the progress achieved.

17. Emphasize the importance of strengthening and developing bilateral and multilateral parliamentary cooperation, and in this context consider convening meetings between the Arab Parliament and the Parliament of the Russian Federation to discuss future cooperation. Welcome the annual International Parliamentary Forum organized by the Russian Federation, which was held in Moscow 2015 and also welcome the exchange of visits between the Arab and Russian Parliamentarians.

18. Stress the need to strengthen mutual cooperation and benefit from the leading Russian expertise in scientific research through holding seminars and workshops. Stress the importance of cooperation in the fields of human resources, science and technology for economic expansion.

19. Welcome the growing economic cooperation between the Member States of LAS and the Russian Federation, encourage operationalization and promotion of such cooperation, underscoring that there is tremendous potential for increasing the volume of bilateral trade and investment, particularly in the areas of industry, agriculture, food security, water resources, banking and finance, oil and gas, power and renewable energy as well as nuclear energy, transport, tourism and communications, in addition to cooperation in various areas, such as the environment, technology transfer and other.

Adopt the proposals for development of Arab-Russian Business Forum mechanism as fundamental framework for activities of the Arab-Russian Business Council. Welcoming the outcome of Russian-Gulf Business Forum, held in Bahrain on 14-15 December 2014 as well as of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, held in the Russian Federation on June 18-20, 2015 and its Session “Russia-Middle East: New Opportunities for Investment Cooperation”.

Emphasize the importance of promoting cooperation in the field of Islamic finance. Therefore, took note of the outcome of the 5th St. Petersburg International Legal Forum hosted by the Russian Federation in May 2015 and its Special session “Strategic Approach to Islamic Financial Instruments”. Took note of the outcome of the 7th International Economic Summit of Russia and OIC countries held in the Russian Federation in June 2015 urge officials and business communities to participate in its 8th Session to be held in Kazan, Russian Federation on May 19-21, 2016 as well as in the IFN Forum “Russia and CIS: Realize Potential and Exploring Islamic Finance Opportunities in a Promising New Markets” to be held in the Russian Federation on March 15, 2016.

20. Emphasize the importance of developing agricultural cooperation between the Member States of LAS and the Russian Federation; urging officials and business communities to participate in the Arab-Russian Forum for Agriculture and Food Security, to be held under the programme of work of the International Exhibition of Agricultural in Morocco in 2016.

21. Stress on the importance of consolidating cooperation between Arab and Russian side in the field of conservation of environment and climate change issues. Welcome the hosting of the Kingdom of Morocco to conference of the parties in the UN framework agreement on climate change in its session (COP-22), which will be held in Marrakech, November 2016.

22. Emphasize the importance of developing touristic ties between the Russian Federation and the Member States of the League of Arab States, stressing the need for further enhancing cooperation among relevant organizations and agencies and for sustained efforts on all levels to ensure the security of tourists.

23. Express support for developing cultural cooperation, including enhancement of ties between relevant organizations of the Russian Federation and the Member States of LAS, holding festivals, fairs and exhibitions on a reciprocal basis. Stress the importance of preserving the Russian and the Arab cultural and historical heritage.

24. Call for an increased educational cooperation, including through enhancement of ties among universities and other higher education establishments, participation in international scientific and cultural meetings to take place in the Russian Federation and the Arab states.

Note the importance of the development of scientific and technical cooperation between the two sides, as well as cooperation in the field of space science and technology, including the exchange of experiences, visits, joint scientific researches, technological projects.

25. Express gratitude and appreciation to the Russian Federation for its cordial hosting of the Third Session of the Arab-Russian Cooperation Forum, warm reception, generous hospitality and good organization of this session.

26. Hold the Forth Session of the Forum during 2017 in an Arab Member State to be determined.