FM Peres: It is a special pleasure for me to receive the special
envoy of the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Russia on his
visit to us. We have an ongoing relationship through visits, by
phone, and may I say that by and large that Russian-Israeli
relations are in very good shape. They are positive, they are
rich in content, and they don't suffer from any inhibitions.
Russia has played a very important role in the last attempt to
bring an end to violence and terror, and to reopen the road to
peace. I think what was achieved over the last few days is a
demonstration of what a political act, supported by the
international community, can do in the most effective manner -
without shooting, without pain, without accusation, but really by
taking the positive side. It was a show of strength for
diplomacy, which I believe is always better than military acts in
order to achieve an important goal.
It is, again, with exquisite pleasure that I welcome you here,
Vdovin: Toda raba, boker tov. I want to thank Mr. Peres for his
kind words, especially where Russia is concerned. I think we had
a very good set of talks with our Israeli partners recently in
Moscow, namely Mr. Peres, and I think President Putin and Foreign
Minister Ivanov are in daily contact with their Israeli
colleagues, their Palestinian colleagues, their Arab colleagues,
and all the international parties involved.
I think that there was a terrible shock in Russia after the
recent terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, especially because almost
all of the victims were from Russia and other CIS countries. But
the most important thing after that attack is the fact that we
should destroy the plans of those who want, through such attacks,
to destroy the peace process and to destroy the possibility of
reaching peace between two peoples, the Israeli people and the
Russia will continue its efforts hand in hand with the American
co-sponsors, with the Europeans, with Egypt and Jordan, with the
United Nations, and of course in close cooperation with Israel
and the Palestinian Authority, so that finally a solution, a
peaceful, a political solution, may be found for the problems
which exist in this part of the world.
Q: Do you support the idea of a buffer zone?
Peres: It's not a buffer zone. The buffer zone was in Lebanon. We
are trying to look for a technical way to prevent terrorists from
infiltrating Israel. It's a totally technical problem, and not a
Vdovin: We are still on the brink of a very serious situation,
and Russia as co-sponsor will continue its efforts to ask all
parties involved to exercise the maximum restraint so that we
don't face terrible consequences of what is happening now.
Concerning any specific ideas, I should say that those ideas are
clearly formulated in the Mitchell Committee's report, and I
should say that the Egyptian-Jordanian initiative also has a lot
of similarities with this report, while also having some
differences. I think that the set of ideas is quite clear on how
to solve the current crisis, but the problem is how to implement
them, how to find a useful mechanism for the implementation of
those ideas, and that is what Russia is going to make efforts to
achieve, with its partners here in the region and in the
Q: (regarding settlements)
Vdovin: Well, for the settlements, Mr. Peres has expressed his
position, which, as I understood goes in the same sense as the
Mitchell Report, and I think that that is quite an essential
point, so that is my reply.
Q: Mr. Sharon said Mr. Arafat is a terrorist and is the head of a
FM Peres: You heard it? You must be a very good listener.
Q: Is this still so and is there any security cooperation with
FM Peres: I don't think that the problem is name-calling, because
if you call someone a name, someone else will give you a
different name, and there will be nothing but a list of new
names. I think we have to judge the policies and not the names.
Our position, my position, towards Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian
authority is clear: We see them as the party responsible to end
terror, to prevent terror, not to use terror, and to arrest
terrorists. This is in accordance with the Oslo agreements, which
was the basis of our relations. In Oslo we agreed to resolve our
differences not by force, but by dialogue, and that is his
responsibility, and we call him to fulfill it, as we are obliged
to do likewise.
There is constantly contact between the relevant professional
people to really try and enhance the ceasefire. The ceasefire is
young and thin, and facing many challenges, and it is our
interest to make it a little bit older, a little bit thicker, a
little bit more stable.
Vdovin: I think that the primary responsibility for the success
of the peace process lies with the parties concerned, so we will
not intervene in those aspects which concern the two parties. But
we should as an international community accompany this process to
help the parties come to agreements, to help things not
deteriorate more than they are now, and in that sense you can be
Vdovin: I can simply add that Mr. Peres made a very important
trip recently to Moscow, which, as you see, was not only devoted
to politics and to saving the peace process but also to cultural
ties between Russia and Israel, and that was a very sensitive
point to many Russians.