Saturday, August 13, 2016

111 - Soviet Foreign Ministry Statement on the Situation in the Middle East, April 17, 1956

The situation now developing in the area of the Near East merits the earnest attention of all states and public circles concerned with the strengthening of universal peace and the thorough easing of international tension.
            It has been repeatedly pointed out that the main cause for the aggravation of the international situation in the Near and Middle East is the continuing attempts to knock together and extend military groupings which serve the aims of colonialism and are directed both against the independence of the peoples in this area and against the security of the peace-loving countries. The establishment of such groupings has become the source of international friction and conflicts in the area of the Near and Middle East and the cause for the deterioration of relations between the Arab states and Israel as well as Turkey, and between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Pakistan and India.
            Instead of taking measures to achieve peaceable and friendly relations between the independent states in this area on the basis of the principles of peaceful co-operation adopted at the Asian-African conference in Bandung, some countries are pitted against other countries, which has created a tense atmosphere in this area. The pressure brought to bear upon the independent Arab states by certain powers with the object of compelling them, contrary to their will, to join the aforesaid groupings, such as the well-known Baghdad pact, constitutes a violation of the principles of the United Nations and is contrary to the interests of peace and international security.
            At the present time, the aggravation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is one of the most dangerous elements of the situation in the Near East. Regardless of how the causes of the outbreak of this conflict are appraised, one cannot fail to see that certain circles of some states, not interested in strengthening international peace, are seeking to use the Arab-Israeli conflict for their own aggressive ends, going so far as to introduce foreign troops into the territory of the countries of this area and to create military complications. Intervention in the affairs of the Arab countries is aimed at restoring the positions of colonialism in the Near East, in which certain oil monopolies are particularly interested. It is well known that the three-power [Tripartite] agreement of 1950 [WebDoc #1] is in line with these aspirations. All this is fraught with the danger of a breeding ground of war developing in that area, which must not be permitted.
            The government of the Soviet Union is resolutely upholding the interests of peace and peaceful co-operation among the nations. It is firmly and consistently carrying out measures aimed at easing international tension, which is in keeping with the wishes of the peoples of all countries, including the peoples of the Near East.
            The establishment, after the Second World War, of the national independence, and the consolidation of the state sovereignty of a number of states which until quite recently were in the position of colonial or mandated territories is a great achievement of the peoples in the cause of safeguarding peace and security in the area of the Near and Middle East. The Soviet Union has regarded with sympathy and warmly supported the efforts of the countries of the Near East aimed at establishing and consolidating the state independence of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Libya, the Sudan, Iraq, Israel and others. In the same way, the Soviet Union appreciated the actions of Britain and France which facilitated a solution of pressing Near East problems on the basis of recognising the independence and sovereignty of the aforementioned states.
            The principles of respect for national independence, sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of states, and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means are recorded in the United Nations Charter. Being a consistent supporter of these principles, the Soviet Union has sincerely and wholeheartedly supported, and continues to support the striving of the Arab states to secure the further strengthening of their recently gained national independence and the advancement of their economic well-being.
            In the establishment of the independence of the states of the Near East and in their general advance the Soviet Union sees an important guarantee of peace and security in this area. That is precisely why the Soviet government has readily responded to and has met the wishes of the governments of these states directed towards these aims. In so doing the Soviet government has not sought special advantages for itself and has endeavoured to arrange its relations with the states in this area on the basis of the just principles proclaimed by the peoples of Asia and Africa at the Bandung Conference.
            Desiring to secure the consolidation of peace and the development of international co-operation, and taking into account the just national interests of the peoples of all countries, the Soviet government has invariably opposed the violation of peace in the Near East, and any actions which could entail the outbreak of armed conflicts or could be utilised as a pretext for precipitating such conflicts.
            The Soviet government considers that an armed conflict in the Near East can and must be avoided and that it is in the interests of all the states of the Near East not to allow themselves to be provoked into being involved in hostilities.
            The Soviet government at the same time regards as unlawful and impermissible, from the standpoint of maintaining universal peace, the attempts to make use of the Arab-Israeli conflict for intervention from outside in the domestic affairs of the independent Arab states or for introducing foreign troops into the territory of the Near East.
            In connection with the aforesaid, the Soviet government states:
1.    The Soviet Union will render the necessary support to measures of the United Nations aimed at exploring ways and means for strengthening peace in the Palestine area and implementing corresponding decisions of the Security Council.
2.   The Soviet Union considers that measures must be taken in the immediate future to ease the existing tension in the Palestine area without interference from outside which is contrary to the will of the states of the Near East and the principles of the United Nations.
The Soviet Union urges the parties concerned to abstain from any actions which might aggravate the situation on the existing demarcation line established by the armistice agreements between the Arab countries and Israel and also to make the necessary efforts to improve the hard lot of the hundreds of thousands of Arab refugees deprived of their shelter and means of livelihood.
          The Soviet Union considers that in the interests of strengthening international peace and security the matter must be handled in such a way as to lead to a lasting peaceful settlement of the Palestine issue on a mutually acceptable basis, taking due account of the just national interests of the parties concerned.
          The Soviet government expresses its readiness to facilitate, together with other states, a peaceful settlement of questions outstanding.

SOURCE: Yaacov Ro’i, From Encroachment to Involvement, doc.42.