The article below is a reminder not only that Russia’s southern frontier comprises a long section of the “bloody border” of Islam, but also that the Russian Federation contains a large Muslim population of its own. Russia’s national interests may require it to act vigorously — even ruthlessly —against its regional enemies even while it curries favor with Muslim countries.
According to Arab News:
Russia Embraces Muslim World
JEDDAH: Russia renewed its commitment to stronger ties with the Muslim world, vowing respect for religious values and a stronger voice for Islamic nations on the global stage at a forum with Muslim leaders here yesterday.
President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev took a friendly dig at all those who have a habit of blaming Muslims for everything that goes wrong in the world.
“Thank God, Islam is not being blamed for the global financial crisis,” Shaimiyev said, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the fourth meeting of the Russia-Islamic World Strategic Vision Group at the Jeddah Conference Palace.
He said Russia has become a natural partner of the Muslim world. “One can say that Russia has clearly defined its strategic path in the Muslim East. It has become a natural partner of the Muslim world,” he said.
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Shaimiyev, one of the group’s Russian co-chairmen, noted the meeting is primarily about “restoring the required level of trust and predictability in our relations, as well as making clear that the aspiration to develop long-term cooperation with the Islamic world is not just a politically expedient issue for Russia.”
Tatarstan is one of the republics of the Russian Federation. Shaimiyev said there is mutual interest in developing cooperation between Russia and Muslim countries.
“One should bear in mind the fact that a strategic partnership with Russia, which seeks a multi-polar world order and does not encroach on values, traditions, authenticity or sovereignty of countries of the Muslim East, is very important for Muslim countries as well,” he said.
The forum is being organized by the Saudi Foreign Ministry and is specifically discussing Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s initiative for interfaith and intercultural dialogue.
In an address from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev read by Shaimiyev at the event, Medvedev wholeheartedly supported King Abdullah’s initiative.
“Russia, a country with observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, intends to abide firmly to its course to expand active interaction with the Islamic world. In this connection, I think a broad discussion of the initiative to further develop interregional dialogue proposed by King Abdullah is of crucial importance,” he said.
“I am also convinced that the implementation of the Russia-proposed idea of forming a consultative council of religions under the UN aegis will help strengthen the moral principles of world politics, facilitate deeper interconfessional communication and, in a broader context, promote the dialogue of civilizations,” the Russian president wrote.
“The illusion of the unipolar world is becoming a thing of the past in front of our eyes. This strategic forum can contribute significantly to the search for ways to make the situation in the world healthier and to attain a new level of global partnership,” Medvedev wrote. “I am convinced that Russia’s active interaction with the Islamic world will help build a fairer system of international relations, where the factor of force will finally stop playing the role of a universal instrument to settle all emerging problems,” he said.
Hat tip: TB.