UPDATE - Russia says France's participation in BRICS summit would be 'unsuitable'

UPDATE - Russia says France's participation in BRICS summit would be 'unsuitable'

Russian Foreign Ministry says participation of French president would not contribute to implementation of BRICS tasks

UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY ZAKHAROVA

MOSCOW (AA) – French President Emmanuel Macron taking part in next month’s BRICS country summit in Johannesburg would be "unsuitable," said Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

The French president’s participation would not contribute to the implementation of the work of BRICS— a bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and host country South Africa – Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Anadolu.

"Sending invitations is a prerogative of the chair country in coordination with other members,” she said. “The Russian position was voiced many times, we see as unsuitable the participation in the BRICS format of representatives (of) … states that pursue neocolonial courses of the collective West toward a huge number of states.”

BRICS was established to boost the role of developing countries in the multipolar world, she added.

"We are persuaded that the participation of the French president would not contribute to the implementation of these tasks. Unfortunately, France has nothing to offer to this association that could attract it," she stressed.

On July 23, South African media reported that Macron wanted to attend the BRICS summit in Johannesburg but the country's president did not send him an invitation.

According to reports, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the BRICS chair, has sent invitations to the leaders of 70 countries, but neither French President Macron nor the leaders of the United States and Great Britain are among those invited.

Amid concerns some countries might call for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit over the Ukraine conflict, Putin is not set to attend, but Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will represent Moscow at the gathering, set for Aug. 22-24.


- Russia condemns burning of Quran copy in Denmark

In response to the Quran copy burning in Denmark, Zakharova said Moscow "strongly condemns the action."

"We strongly condemn this and similar extremist acts. It is inappropriate to show disrespect for any religion," she stressed.

According to the spokeswoman, such manifestations "are no longer uncommon" in Denmark.

"We observe how religious radicals, feeling their impunity, now in one, then in another European capital ... with maniacal persistence carry out egregious crimes against Islam, mocking the holy Quran," the diplomat said.

Zakharova also pointed out that mocking the feelings of believers has nothing in common with a demonstration of freedom of speech and democracy, which the Danish authorities use "to cover" manifestations of aggressive “barbarism and xenophobia.”

The official warned that if the authorities do not interfere and stop such actions, they will lead to lawlessness, which "does not choose its victims."

"We expect the Danish authorities to stop condoning incitement of inter-religious strife and will take all necessary measures against radicals," she stressed.

Twice copies of the Holy Quran were burned in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Copenhagen within a week by members of the Islamophobic, far-right nationalist group “Danske Patrioter (Danish Patriots).”

Earlier in the month, Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi refugee living in Sweden, stomped and kicked the Holy Quran, just weeks after he set fire to pages of the holy book outside a Stockholm mosque.

Salwan Momika, a 37-year-old Iraqi refugee living in Sweden, stomped and kicked the Holy Quran just days after he set fire to pages of the holy book outside a Stockholm mosque.

While in January, Rasmus Paludan, a far-right Danish leader, burned a copy of the Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.


- Moscow to reciprocate Moldova's decision

In response to Moldova's decision earlier on Wednesday, asking Russia to reduce its diplomatic staff in Chisinau, Zakharova said, "We regard this as unjustified and unfriendly actions that will not go unanswered. This is another step towards the destruction of bilateral relations by the Chisinau regime."

The spokeswoman rejected the Moldovan authorities’ accusations that Russian diplomats are spies, describing them as "a fantasy story"

"It has nothing to do with reality. Our diplomats and diplomatic missions in Moldova strictly adhere to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961," she stressed.

On Wednesday, Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said the government has decided to reduce the number of diplomatic staff at the Russian embassy. According to Popescu, the reason for this step was a suspicion that "some of the embassy staff is involved in destabilizing the situation in the country."

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