Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion’s recent move to restore relations with Russia has that country’s ambassador to Canada saying it is an opportunity for engagement after a period of Canadian “self-isolation.”
Speaking with a The West Block’s Vassy Kapelos, Alexander Darchiev said he views Canada’s recent openness to restoring diplomatic ties “as a win-win situation” because the two countries have mutual interests.
“We should remember that actually we the international community – or Russia, the United States, and Canada – are at war with international terrorism,” the ambassador noted.
“We should do everything we could to not to let terrorists to come to our doorsteps. And if we do not talk to each other, you know, we all will lose … my basic message is that talking is better than non-talking.”
Darchiev said the frosty relationship between Moscow and the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper also had a negative impact on policy in the Arctic.
“We are neighbours across the North Pole and … we need dialogue,” he said. “We can’t stop talking on issues like delineation of continental shelf – that involves negotiations – search and rescue, and many other issues.”
The ambassador acknowledged that the two nations may never come to a common ground on the issue of Ukraine, parts of which have been annexed by the Russians.
The new Canadian government has remained firm in its stance that Russia should pull out of Ukraine.
Another sticky issue is the regime of Bashar al Assad in Syria, which the Russians have been accused of trying to defend in spite of documented war crimes against the Syrian people.
Darchiev said his government is pleased that the removal of Assad is no longer a precondition for peace talks in Syria, calling it “a real obsession” on the part of the United States in particular.
“This was the major impediment…it was a real obsession and this was the major reason why the U.S.-led coalition – before Russia came in – was idling instead of fighting ISIS and the like in earnest.”
Watch the full interview above.
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