"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
Question: A year on from the Palestinian elections, do you believe that the strategy of diplomatically and financially isolating Hamas is working and productive, or is it time to end the international boycott?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I do not think that to solve this problem, or indeed any other problem existing in the world is possible via boycott or isolation. It seems to me that today's Quartet meeting has succeeded in adopting a document which sets out, among other things, our common position in favor of a viable government appearing in Palestine as soon as possible that will be ready to tackle the real problems of the Palestinian people and hold talks with Israel to attain the goals the international community has set in respect of the Palestine-Israel conflict.
Hamas is a political force. We want this to be the sole thrust in its activities, and we have all spoken out for an end to violence and terrorist acts. Hamas received support from the Palestinian people in the parliamentary elections held a year ago, and it must now realize its responsibility to its own people. It is in this direction that the Russian Federation has been trying to influence the position of Hamas. We are going to carry on this work and support the efforts PNA President Abbas is undertaking to form a government of national unity, a government of technocrats. In any case the Palestinians must themselves determine how they are going to build their life. But they must be completely aware that there are the accords between the Palestinians and Israelis, which have been endorsed by the international community, there are the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations, and they have to be implemented anyway.
Question: What role can Syria play in the settlement of the Palestine-Israel conflict?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I can say we, in principle, advocate that all those should be drawn into the settlement who can ease its progress. Undoubtedly, in the case of the Palestine-Israel conflict, Syria can surely play a constructive role. We note that the signals we and others have been sending to Damascus have not been left unheeded. The Syrians helped arrange a meeting between Abu Mazen and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus not so long ago. The meeting, in our judgment, enabled dialogue among the Palestinians to move forward. Hopefully this dialogue will be continued and lead to positive results.
I also want to stress that when we are talking not only about Palestinian-Israeli settlement, but also about Middle East settlement generally in all its aspects, be it the Lebanese or Syrian track, or the problem around Iraq, we are convinced of the counterproductiveness of isolating whomsoever, as well as of the fact that the involvement of all those who can influence the situation is extremely necessary so that the influence is positive, not negative. I think that by acting in this direction we will be able to achieve results.
Question: How can you assess the outcome of the Quartet meeting in terms of the Russian priorities in Middle Eastern affairs?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: That's very easy to do, because the statement that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has read out reflects in full measure the position of all the Quartet participants, including the position of the Russian Federation. Apart from considering specific issues of the present situation, the statement reaffirms all the fundamental principles on which we are seeking a settlement to the Middle East conflict, one that is long-term, enduring and comprehensive. This, I think, is one of the main achievements of today's meeting. So that the position of the Russian Federation is fully reflected in the document that was approved today.
Question: Hamas has said it is ready to engage with the Quartet. Do you think that that's a good idea? Can the Quartet play a more constructive role in helping Hamas and Fatah to form a unity government and not just backing PNA President Abbas?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I can only repeat it that we are convinced of the necessity to work with Hamas and influence its position so that this movement accepts the principles which the Quartet has formulated. If we just leave these principles "on paper" and hope that they in and of themselves will magically become a part of the position of Hamas, then that's hardly a realistic proposition. For this to happen, persevering, consistent work needs to be carried out with this movement.
Where Russia is concerned, we are doing it. I cannot speak for all the Quartet members; not all its members, shall we say, have a relationship with Hamas. But what we are doing aims for implementing our collective platform, the platform of the Quartet.