MOSCOW, May 23 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow calls for the continuation of the work of Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on Syria Kofi Annan as the only mediator in the Syrian settlement, Russian President’s Special Envoy for the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said in an interview with the VIP-Premier magazine on Wednesday.
“Kofi Annan’s staff, his aides are working in Damascus, there is the civilian component for the information processing,” Bogdanov said. “The staff of the UN mission has professional training and is objective.” The deputy minister stressed the importance of submitting by Annan to the UN Security Council his regular report on the situation in Syria. “It is a very important and constructive aspect. After all, he (Annan) informs the world community, and not the ‘group of friends of Syria,’” he added, recalling that Russia does not take part in meetings of the ‘friends.’
“Any issues should and can be discussed in the course of an inclusive (comprehensive) national dialogue among the Syrians themselves,” the diplomat said. “We are satisfied with the fact that this task is clearly defined in the ‘six- point’ plan of Kofi Annan approved by the UN Security Council.” Bogdanov said that during the visit of the special envoy to Moscow in March, the Russian side reiterated its support for his efforts in the work with the Syrian sides – the authorities and opposition - to overcome the crisis and develop an inclusive political dialogue.
The consent of Damascus to implement the “roadmap” of the former UN Secretary-General “has opened a new ‘window of opportunity’ in the crisis settlement.” “Damascus has begun the withdrawal of troops from settlements under the schedule agreed upon with the special envoy,” the RF deputy foreign minister continued. “However, some opposition forces, including the Syrian National Council (SNC), have been evading the plan’s implementation in every way.” In this connection Moscow strongly advises all the states that have influence on the armed opposition to bring home to it the strong demand – to avoid provocations and abide by the ceasefire declared on April 12.”
“We still proceed from the fact that Kofi Annan will continue his work as the sole mediator in the Syrian settlement who has the commensurate authority of the UN Security Council,” the RF deputy foreign minister said.
Bogdanov recalled in this connection the UN Security Council Resolution 2043, authorising the deployment of the UN military observer mission of 300 people for three months, initiated by Russia. “The positive changes and a decrease in violence after the arrival of UN observers, as it was noted at Kofi Annan’s latest briefings in the UN Security Council, have already taken place,” he stated.
Russia “hopes that during these three months the necessary conditions will be created for the launch in Syria of an inclusive dialogue on the broadest political basis with a view to normalising the situation and solving urgent problems of the national agenda in accordance with the free choice of the country’s citizens,” the official stated.