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West incites Syrian opposition to change Damascus regime

November 14, 2011, 16:03 UTC+3

Lavrov considers the decision to suspend Syria’s membership in the LAS “wrong”

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KHABAROVSK, November 14 (Itar-Tass) — Western countries are inciting the Syrian radical opposition “to chart a course towards changing the regime in Syria”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov journalists on Monday on the way to Honolulu.

“When these people hear tough statements from Washington and Brussels saying no dialogue should be held with al-Assad [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] and he should resign, of course, this does not move to a constructive talks,” Lavrov said.

According to the Russian minister, practically a week ago the LAS (League of Arab States) made public its plan on the Syrian settlement and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said this plan had died, and Washington had insisted the Syrian opposition refute Bashar al-Assad’s calls to surrender arms and receive pardon.

“By telling like it is, there are facts of direct incitement of the radical opposition to pursue a firm towards replacing the regime and give up any proposals to start a dialogue,” Lavrov stressed.

At the same time, the minister noted that Russia “is trying to convince the Syrian opposition to be wiser”. “We will have consultations with representatives of the Syrian opposition in Moscow on November 15,” Lavrov said. “We continue our efforts. Head of the Syrian National Council Burhan Ghalioun will be in Moscow on November 15. He leads one of the opposition groups, which take the most intransigent attitude towards the regime [of Bashar al-Assad]. We will try to convince this group to be wiser,” the Russian minister said.

“We will try to inform them about our concerns because the struggle for power is often becoming goals in, but it is necessary to think of the country and of the people,” Lavrov stressed.

Lavrov said a decision on suspending Syria’s membership in the LAS would deprive of the opportunity to make the situation transparent.

Lavrov considers the decision to suspend Syria’s membership in the LAS “wrong”.

The minister recalled that the Syrians had invited observers from the LAS. “Those who took this decision deprived of the opportunity to make the situation in Syria transparent,” Lavrov pointed out. “In any case the presence of LAS observers would play a stabilising and quieting role. Unfortunately, by examining all facts I must say anyone wants Syrians not to close to each other,” Lavrov stressed.

The suspension of Syria’s membership in the LAS looks as it would be planned earlier. “We gave advice as friends in order to speed up the reforms. Basher al-Assad approved a lot of important laws and created a committee, which dealt with the constitutional reform, including on ending the monopoly of the Ba’ath Party,” the minister said.

“Both the opposition and our Syrian and American colleagues said openly he [Bashar al-Assad] did nothing. It’s wrong. Unfortunately, the Syrian leadership made many mistakes. One of them is the leadership’s unwillingness to open the country for any mass media,” Lavrov said.

“The problem is that the opposition gives up any contacts with the regime,” he added.

Earlier, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the LAS statements saying its initiative on the Syrian settlement is not of current interest proves any attempts to promote the “Libyan scenario”.

Russia disagrees with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe’s wording the LAS initiative on Syria “has died”, the diplomat noted. “Today in this non-easy situation it is difficult to find a more acceptable format for contributing to the dialogue than the proposal by the League of Arab States. The League will be able to see into all circumstances of the conflict and put forth an optimal variant to resolve the issue,” Lukashevich pointed out.

The spokesman said any wording the LAS proposal was no longer relevant “is seen the policy of the states that are interested in promoting the ‘Libyan scenario’ in international relations”.

Federation Council Foreign Relations Committee chairman Mikhail Margelov told Itar-Tass on November 3 that Syria’s consent with the LAS plan would give hopes for starting talks in order to settle the internal situation in the region, “The Syrian authorities made it clear that they were ready to reach compromises and take part in the talks with the opposition. This decision was become real after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had given signals to the international community.” “It gives us hopes for starting the peace process,” the legislator said.

In his view, the LAS plan “is more balanced”. “It meets the interests of the Syrian people, the Syrian opposition and the country’s authorities. Due to the fact that the interests were met to a lesser degree proves President al-Assad seeks to end the protracted conflict,” Margelov stressed.

The LAS roadmap envisions the withdrawal of Syrian units from the cities of the country and terminating violence by all sides of the conflict. In addition, within two weeks the Syrian authorities have obliged to begin a nationwide dialogue.

Margelov, who is also Russian presidential special envoy for Africa and mediator of the crisis in Libya, called for “riveting attention to the work, which should begin between the Syrian authorities, the Syrian opposition and the LAS”. “It is necessary to uphold the efforts taken by the League of Arab States on the settlement of the conflict by peaceful means.” He assured that Russia “is ready for this”.

The legislator stressed that the LAS played an important role in resolving difficult situations in the region. “It is a universal and authoritative instrument in the Arab world and one of the instruments, which was not lost during the ‘Arab spring’. According to the practice, Arabs themselves understand their problems and can solve them themselves,” Margelov pointed out.

According to the Russian legislator, “it is necessary to start an inter-political dialogue immediately because the latest news prove that the situation is becoming more and more tense. The number of victims increases. We understand that when the first shots fired there were no good or bad in the conflict,” he added.

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