Middle East

Press sceptical on Lavrov's Syria visit

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R)
Image caption Sergei Lavrov (R) met President Bashar al-Assad during the visit to the Syrian capital

Many papers in the Middle East, Turkey and Russia are sceptical about the usefulness of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Foreign Intelligence Service head Mikhail Fradkov's trip to Damascus on Tuesday for talks with President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian state television showed crowds waving Syrian and Russian flags as their convoy moved through the capital. Russian news agencies say President Assad told Mr Lavrov that he was ready for dialogue with all political forces, and was interested in an expanded Arab League mission to Syria.

Russia - along with China - came under fierce international criticism after their veto of a UN resolution calling on the Syrian government to stop killing its own people. Russia is the largest supplier of arms to Syria and has a naval base there - the only one outside the former Soviet Union.

Middle East

Rafiq Khuri in Lebanon's Al-Anwar

"Everything that Lavrov has announced gives the impression that all that he has in his basket has been overtaken by events... The time has passed for a Syrian solution - that has sunk into blood, as well as for the Arab-international solution."

Abdul Rahman al-Rashid in the Baghdad edition of London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat

"[Assad's] Russian partners are asking him to adopt a political solution of some sort... But he is going to deal with the Russians as he has done before with the Turks and the French, among others. He will listen to them and make promises but will keep none."

Amit Cohen in Israel's Maariv

"Russia claims that it is possible to solve the crisis without any Security Council intervention, but now it has to prove that this is right. Therefore Lavrov bound the Syrian president with chains when he officially declared that Assad had committed himself to ending the violence."

Ziyad Ghusn in Syria's government-owned Tishrin

The things that distinguish Russia's position on Syria the most are realism and objectivity. It is a position that is based on deep analysis, which is linked to everything that is happening on the ground. Hence its vision for the solution to the Syrian crisis is derived from a realistic comprehensive political context that does not rely on prior positions or ready-made solutions."

Ali Qasim in Syria's government-owned Al-Thawrah

"It is perfectly obvious that Syria and Russia have become closer to each other more than ever... President Bashar al-Assad's meeting with the Russian minister confirmed that."


Sami Kohen in Turkey's Milliyet

"Russian diplomacy may still be trying to achieve a compromise between Assad and his opponents and to create formulas for this. It may even persuade Assad to move in this direction. But what is currently realistic is a solution not with Assad but without him."

Ibrahim Karagul in Turkey's Yeni Safak

"Even Lavrov himself knew that this was the last chance. To date, none of the repeated guarantees given by Damascus have been followed by results. It is not possible for a country to do all this while there is a civil war atmosphere."

Deniz Ulke Aribogan in Turkey's Aksam

"On the one hand ambassadors are being called back, and on the other tens of thousands of flag-waving Syrians support Lavrov's visit to Syria. The world seems to be split in two again, and Turkey is looking for a position for itself in this new structure."


Aleksandr Gabuyev in Kommersant

"Russia is making desperate attempts to stop a civil war that is starting in Syria and thus to save a regime friendly towards it... When the motorcade reached [Damascus], it was received by a huge crowd, jubilantly waving Russian flags... Exactly the same crowds of Muammar Gaddafi's supporters were shown on Libyan state TV shortly before the fall of his regime."

Yuriy Paniyev in Nezavisimaya Gazeta

"The trip of Russian top officials to Syria, the first one in more than 10 months, shows that Moscow not only objects to the UN Security Council resolution but is trying to find a political solution to the problem... Experts say that Bashar al-Assad's immediate resignation was not on the agenda of the meeting."

Andrey Yashlavskiy in Moskovskiy Komsomolets

"Russia's position in the Syrian issue cannot be called strong. After our and Chinese diplomats blocked the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, Bashar al-Assad's opponents have listed Russia and China among their enemies. The situation has not made Moscow more popular with the West, either."

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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