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Istanbul to host second conference of “Friends of Syria”

April 01, 2012, 12:12 UTC+3

Istanbul stages on Sunday the second conference of “Friends of Syria” at the level of foreign ministers

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ISTANBUL, April 1 (Itar-Tass) — Istanbul stages on Sunday the second conference of “Friends of Syria” at the level of foreign ministers.

Turkey pins great hopes for a success of the forum, taking into account the fact that the first meeting of “friends”, held in Tunisia late in February did not yield any tangible results over absence of a consolidated stand. Istanbul invited the same countries whose representatives were present in Tunisia.

Some 70 states confirmed their participation. Special attention is given to US State Secretary Hillary Clinton. Special representative of the UN and the Arab League for Syria Kofi Annan cannot arrive in Istanbul over other events on his schedule, while Russia and China will not participate over difference in views on principles of settling the Syrian problem. Iran will be also absent, since it has not received any invitation.

The Hurriyet newspaper notes that this is attributed to the fact that Ankara sent invitations, guided by two criteria: a state is to be either a member of the UN Security Council, or it was to back the UN General Assembly resolution on Syria. Iran does not meet any of these criteria.

One of the key questions, on which “friends” have no complete unity so far, is whether President Bashar Assad and his administration should give up power. Despite seeming unanimity of “friends” on this question, they have no united opinion on this issue. Some members of the Arab League have also become less resolute.

In any case, all participants in the forum agree to the need of democratic reforms and an end to the bloodshed.

A Hurriyet observer notes that Turkey flatly declares that reforms should be carried out with Assad. Turkey and Qatar organized a political forum of the Syrian opposition in Istanbul early this week, which does not want to have anything to do with the president of their country.

Ankara upbraids all the time Assad of pursuing a policy of violence against his own citizens. Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan even put into doubt a success of Annan’s plan which, in his opinion, can be completely discredited by Assad’s behavior.

“The Annan plan was accepted by Damascus. However, the killing of people in Syria continues since the time when it was announced and up to this time. We should not state anymore that we hope and wait. Witnessing the developments, I don’t hope anymore,” said Erdogan.

“Friends of Syria” have several aims which they want to achieve at the forum. It is necessary to achieve above all that the international community should contact with the opposition more often and more efficiently, various groups of which united under the aegis of the Syrian National Council (SNC) after the Istanbul meeting.

In the meantime, not everything is smooth in the camp of opposition, as it seems. For instance Syrian Kurds did not sign “the national pact” of the Council, saying that their interests were virtually ignored there, while the document was based on the interests of the Muslim Brothers organization.

On uniting into the Kurdish National Council, Kurds will not participate in the meeting of “friends”, since Turkey’s condition for them was to participate only in the SNC.

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