Mikhail Margelov: Russia must prepare new 'Eastern' policy

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is one of the largest international organisations, uniting practically all Islamic countries and officially recognised by the UN, UNESCO and other organisations. This was announced in an interview yesterday with radio station Echo Moskvi by Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Federation Council committee on international affairs. In his opinion, Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation to the summit 'shows that the 'Eastern policy' which Russia is currently adopting is not a counterweight to Russia's ambitions in the West but a policy which provides balance to Russian foreign policy in general.'

'Russia is an Islamic country just as much as it is Christian, Buddhist or Jewish. Mr Putin's trip was therefore a perfectly logical step,' Mr Margelov asserts. At the same time, he said that all the Russian faiths and religious organisations had 'clearly and sharply' criticised the anti-semitic attacks of the Malaysian prime minister.

Mr Margelov is convinced that Russia's 'eastern policy' should be different from the 'eastern policy' of the Soviet Union. 'During the Cold War this policy only fuelled greater antagonism between the USSR and the USA. The two superpowers used Asia as a battleground, providing material support to various factions in different countries,' he said.

Now, in his opinion, the situation is changing completely. 'We have come to an understanding with the US that we can agree to disagree without falling out. This means we must learn to collaborate together in a new way. The results of our cooperation can be seen in Iraq and Afghanistan,' he said. He said 'Russia's eastern policy' should be concerned with preventing the spread of WMD, fighting international terrorism, preventing the export of arms and stopping the spread of AIDS. 'Our relations with Indonesia are very important as it is one of the most powerful Islamic countries and a leading producer of information technology. We should also try to maintain good relations with other developed countries in the east which have space programmes, aircraft production and which are active on the world oil market such as Malaysia,' he stressed.

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