MOSCOW, December 22 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow hopes that the League of Arab States initiative will help cease violence in Syria without external interference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.
“We categorically come against any violence. In this regard we actively uphold the LAS initiative. We believe that the presence of LAS observers will help carry out the League’s step towards stimulating the inter-Syrian dialogue without external interference,” Lukashevich said.
Earlier in the day, Lavrov said Russia hoped that Arab observers would objectively work in coordination with the Syrian government.
In his telephone conversation with Secretary General of the League of Arab States Nabil Al-Arabi, Lavrov said, “Russia expressed hope that the objective work of Arab observers in coordination with the Syrian government would facilitate the soonest cessation of violence in the country and the settlement of the crisis by Syrians themselves, without external interference.”
The Foreign Ministry reported that the conversation had been held on the initiative of the LAS Secretary General. “The parties discussed the situation in the Middle East by riveting attention to the LAS efforts on contributing to stabilising the situation in Syria through involving observers to the country in compliance with the December 19 Syrian-LAS Protocol,” the ministry said.
Moscow welcomes Syria’s decision to sign the protocol on the status of observers from the League of Arab States (LAS) in the country.
“The protocol that enters into force upon signature calls for sending a LAS observer mission to Syria to establish verifiable facts concerning events in that country, monitor full compliance with the obligations to stop all acts of violence, no matter where they come from, in cities and towns across Syria, and prepare reports for the LAS governing bodies,” the ministry said on Monday, December 19.
“The mission has been given broad powers in terms of free movement, contacts under its mandate and in coordination with the Syrian government that has pledged to provide all possible assistance to the Arab observers,” the ministry said.
“Moscow from the very beginning supported the LAS initiative aimed at facilitating the resolution of the internal crisis in Syria and welcomes the signing of the protocol on the LAS observer mission. We consistently advocate an immediate stop to any violence in Syria and resolution of pressing problems in the country by Syrian people through a broad national dialogue without external interference,” the ministry said.
“We think that the document signed in Cairo makes it possible to use the mechanism of independent control on the ground, thus helping protect all Syrian citizens and stabilise the situation. We think this chance must be used,” the ministry said.
Russia is also ready to send observers to Syria is such a request comes from the Syrian authorities or opposition or the League of Arab States, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said earlier.
“If we get such a request from the Syrian authorities or opposition or mainly from LAS, we are ready to join in,” he told Itar-Tass last week.
Bogdanov recalled that Russia has already been visited by four Syrian opposition delegations. “We are now ready to invite a fifth one headed by one of the internal opposition leaders, Hassan Abdul-Azim. He is the leader of so-called coordination committees in Syria, he lives in Damascus and is a prominent public figure,” he said.
The opposition in Syria is “heterogeneous”. “There are different forces with different political slogans and approaches regarding the resolution of the crisis and the overall system in the country through democratisation of public and political life,” Bogdanov said.
“We respect all opinions but think that these views should be consolidated within the framework of a national dialogue and in the interests of all Syrians,” the diplomat said.
He believes that the presence of LAS observers in Syria could “generate an additional opportunity for Syrian settlement”.
“Russia called on all parties to the Syrian crisis from very beginning and certainly on the authorities in Damascus to interact with the League of Arab States most flexibly, quickly and fully and support the initiative [on settlement],” the diplomat said. “Official Damascus supported the plan on the whole, but there were questions that required additional consultations,” he said.
According to Bogdanov, the question of implementation mechanisms arose logically. “The mechanism includes the presence of LAS observers, objective observers to monitor the implementation of the road map,” he said.
Moscow gave full support to that approach and worked with Syrian partners in Damascus seriously, persistently and patiently in order to “convey to them our understanding of what should be done and how”, the deputy foreign minister added.
“Now the leadership of the republic has made the relevant decision, not without Russian recommendations, we think. The authorities are ready to sign a protocol on the terms of work of the observers who will monitor the implementation of the League’s initiative concerning political resolution of the crisis without foreign, let alone armed, interference through broad dialogue between all political forces in Syria,” Bogdanov said.
If this moves in this direction, this will “fully agree with Russia’s understanding of how to resolve existing problems. This will indicate that the Syrian leadership has assumed a reasonable and balanced position,” he said.
Moscow hopes that “this will create an additional opportunity for a peaceful political settlement through dialogue between the Syrians in the interests of the people of the country”, the diplomat said.