MOSCOW, November 7 (Itar-Tass) —— Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged his foreign colleagues and heads of international organisation to support the League of Arab States’ plan for Syria in order to put the efforts in the country on a peaceful political footing.
“Moscow has actively supported the crisis settlement plan for Syria proposed by the League of Arab States (LAS) and welcomed the Syrian authorities’ readiness to start implementing it without delay,” the Foreign Ministry said on Monday, November 7.
“The confirmation by Damascus on November 4 of the release of 553 arrested people and the declaration of amnesty for the rebels who would agree to lay down arms” became an important step in this context, it said.
“These measures and other parts of the LAS initiative cerate an opportunity for starting a constructive and substantive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition in order to lead the situation to the road of reconciliation and reforms without outside interference,” the ministry said.
Against this background, Russia is alarmed by reports about new acts of violence and casualties in Syria, specifically in the city of Homs.
“No one plans to relieve the Syrian authorities of the responsibility for the current events. It is their natural duty is to ensure the security and rights of their citizens, public security and order. At the same time, the opposition should distance itself from armed extremists who use the arms smuggled into Syria in order to provoke the authorities to retaliate in a bid to torpedo the LAS initiative,” the ministry said.
“Statements by some Western states with unilateral assessments of the events and even calls to the opposition not to surrender weapons and reject the amnesty proposed by the authorities are a matter of serious concern,” it said. Also alarming are “statements by the Syrian opposition abroad on its strong refusal to begin a dialogue with Damascus proposed by the League of Arab States”.
“All this cannot help normalise the situation in Syria and runs counter to the peace initiative put forth by the Arab states,” the ministry said.
“Considering these circumstances, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent oral messages to the foreign ministers of some countries and the leaders of international organisations, urging them to support the LAS plan and use their possibilities for ensuring coordinated influence on all parties to the conflict in Syria in order to implement the LAS initiative within the shortest time possible and put the settlement process in Syria on a peaceful political footing,” the ministry said.
In a telephone conversation with LAS Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby earlier, Lavrov noted “the great importance of the efforts and role of the League of Arab States in fostering the dialogue and stressed Russia’s commitment to the need for the Syrians to find solutions to their internal problems on the basis of consensus and a programme of political and socio-economic reforms in the interests of all people”, the ministry said.
Russia continues to object to possible U.N. sanctions against Syria.
The Kremlin stressed that Russia’s position has not changed. “We urge the Syrian leadership to consistently carry out the reforms it has declared,” a source in the presidential administration said.
“We remain critical about possible sanctions against Syria,” he said, adding that the United States and the European Union have already imposed sanctions against that country.
“The main question is to implement consistently the reforms [President Bashar] by al-Asad, stop violence and prevent casualties,” the source said.
Questioning the legitimacy of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad would be pointless and destructive and will only push the country to civil war, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said earlier.
“Urging the authorities to encourage democratisation is one thing. But if someone has set himself the goal to topple the regime, that’s something different,” he said.
“Many politicians state that Bashar al-Asad has lost his legitimacy. These statements are unconstructive because if this is how the question is put, it is hard to expect the ‘illegitimate’ leaders to take legitimate action and the opponents of the regime to foster dialogue with the illegitimate leadership,” the diplomat said.
“In our opinion, putting the question this way is absolutely pointless and destructive and will basically push the country and society to a civil conflict, including with the use of force, which may have very bad consequences,” Bogdanov said.
President Dmitry Medvedev sent a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier, urging the authorities and the opposition to stop violence and start declared reforms in the country.
“In the course of the conversation, while discussing the situation in Syria, the Russian side placed the main emphasis on the need for an urgent and full stop to violence on either side, and for immediate concrete steps to carry out the reforms declared by the leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the presidential press service said.
“It was also stressed that the opposition should not avoid the dialogue proposed by the authorities because this is the only way to restore civil peace and accord and Syria’s movement along the road of democratic reforms,” it said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry urged all sides in Syria to refrain from violence and continue to look for fair and lawful solutions to burning problems.