“We must continue expanding Russia’s presence in this new multipolar world’ – Wassim Khalil Kalaajieh

We bring you the speech by Wassim Khalil Kalaajieh, a prominent Arab scholar and public figure, at the annual meeting of the Russia - Islamic World strategic vision group that was held in Chechen capital Grozny earlier in May.

Vladimir Putin has repeatedly stated that Russia is a strong defender and reliable partner for the Islamic world. 
Islam is an integral part of Russian history and an essential element of Russian culture. The Russian Federation is an Islamic state and its Muslims are part of the Islamic world. They enjoy the same rights as Muslims of the Islamic world. Therefore we must raise the voice of Russian Muslims in the Muslim world. The Russian Federation is part of the Islamic World. Both Russian Muslims and Muslims from other countries share the same interests so they cannot be separated. When we say “Russia – Islamic world”, we don’t separate them, on the contrary, we tend to combine them. 
Let me take this opportunity to draw the attention of honourable members, Mr. Rustam Minnikhanov and Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov, to this important aspect. 
In terms of international tensions between the Islamic and Western worlds, we should mention the increasing role of Russia. We must continue to strengthen Russia’s presence on the international arena in this new, multipolar world. The role of Russia is important not only as a counterbalance to the Western policy in the Islamic world, but also as a protector from the vacuum that can emerge in the Muslim world without its presence. 
As strong and powerful state, Russia supports the Islamic world in that difficult situation that we are facing today. Russia is able to fulfill this role. Russia must show to the Islamic world its ability to achieve the goals facing the Islamic world. For its part, the Islamic world must involve Russia in its affairs. 
The Islamic world should leverage Russia’s presence in the world community and its role there.
This partnership between Russia and the Muslim world can yield crucial benefits. We must develop a strategy that will, on the one hand, help us to strengthen relations between Russia and the Islamic world. On the other hand, we must strengthen cooperation between Russia and the Islamic world. Currently, these relations are not in their best stage. According to the Western mass media, the Russian Federation puts too much focus on its affiliation with the Muslim world allegedly through its relations with the Arab world. 
We should all make everything possible to overcome this fabricated contradiction. We should deny these Western rumors about Russia’s separation from the Islamic world. I urge you and all of us to help improve Russia’s image in the Islamic world. We should help Islamic public opinion to realize the motives behind the Russian policy in the Arab world. 
For its part, Russia should take into account the interests of the Muslim world in its policy so that our countries can identify the true priorities in their relations. 
Besides, we should be considering a new approach to the Russian-Islamic relations and find true motives which can bring Moscow and the Arab world closer.
I think that the Russian Federation realizes that neither Iran nor Turkey can help Russia to get to the Islamic world and particularly to the Arab world. This triangular relationship – Russia-Turkey-Iran, and even the bilateral relations of Russia with these two countries – cannot replace relations between Russia and the Arab world. 
The authorities of the Russian Federation, some of them are present here, should provide an opportunity to discuss prospects of the Russian-Arab relations under the current circumstances. We should discuss points of convergence and our differences so that we can engage in dialogue and find the best ways for our cooperation. Trust me, honourable members, the Western mass media make all possible efforts to persuade the Arab public opinion that Russia is a hostile country. Particularly they are doing it now after the Arab spring and the Syria crisis.
The Arab public opinion has failed to realize that following the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia’s foreign policy has been primarily based on pragmatic and strategic interests. We want the Arab world to come up with a new approach to Russia so that Russia’s relations with the Arab world would not focus on just one international issue: either Palestine or Syria. We want a new Arab policy towards Russia in line with Arab interests of a common fight, on the basis of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. 
These relations should develop regardless of relations between Russia and the US, or the Arab world and the US, or the West and Europe relations. 
In conclusion, we want the voice of Russia to be heard louder in the Arab world. We also want your voice to be heard better in the Arab world and the Russian Federation. Thank you for attention.