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Sergei Lavrov: Syrian opposition demands external interference for lack of its own strength

September 02, 2013, 21:10 UTC+3

“Speaking of the Middle East and North Africa, this is what we call double standards,” the minister said

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Photo ITAR-TASS / Michael Pochuev

Photo ITAR-TASS / Michael Pochuev

MOSCOW, September 2 (Itar-Tass) - The Syrian opposition is demanding external interference as it lacks its own strength, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“Speaking of the Middle East and North Africa, this is what we call double standards: personal dislike of some authoritarian dictator, while dictators who cause no such dislike are allies,” the minister said at a traditional meeting with students and faculty members of Moscow’s MGIMIO University of International Relations on Monday, September 2.

“Likewise, it would be illogical to speak of ‘democratic changes’ needed in the region. We are convinced that the people have a right to a better life, and if a large number of people in the region want to live better, their aspirations have to be supported but not in order to incite the use of force or overthrow of the regime, but in order to facilitate national dialogue, convince regimes that it is in their interest to start the process of national reconciliation and ensure the integrity of their countries,” Lavrov said.

He recalled that NATO aviation had taken sides in the conflict in Libya, as a result of which President Muammar al-Gaddafi was barbarously killed with NATO’s help. “I speak about consistency and double standards when weapons from Libya started later to spread over. According to U.N. estimates, illegal supplies of firearms … have already reached 12 countries. In Mali the French fought those whom they had armed in Libya,” the minister said.

He warned against “dividing terrorists into good and bad” as this is “absolutely unprofessional and short-sighted.”

“The Syrian regime made many mistakes. It could have and should have started national dialogue. We convinced the regime to support the LAS [League of Arab States] initiative and convinced [Syrian President Bashar] Assad to accept the Kofi Annan plan [proposed by Annan as the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis],” Lavrov said.

Moscow has also garnered Assad’s consent to sending its representatives to a peace conference without preconditions, while the Syrian opposition has so far not made such decision. “The opposition, being under pressure not only from the West but also from countries in the region, does not want any conference and puts its stakes on its military victory. The opposition lacks its own strength and needs external interference. It was inspired by the fact that [U.S. President Barack] Obama had decided to deliver a strike on Syria but had not yet consulted the Congress.”

The armed Syrian opposition has refused to attend the international conference on Syria commonly referred to as Geneva II and accused the official Syrian authorities of using chemical weapons.

National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces leader Badr Jamous said on August 26, “We refuse to talk about Geneva after what happened.”

Earlier on the same day, a delegation of the Syrian opposition met with the Friends of Syria Group, which brings together Western and Arab states.

Moscow said earlier it expected the Syrian opposition to agree to attend the international conference on Syria without preconditions.

At their talks in Moscow on May 7, Lavrov and Kerry agreed to hold an international conference on the basis of the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012, in order to try to overcome the crisis in Syria.

Lavrov and Kerry said that their countries would encourage both the Syrian government and opposition groups to look for a political solution.

As the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Brahimi has consistently called on the U.S. and Russia to exercise leadership and work together to initiate a process to implement the Geneva Declaration of June 30, 2012.

That document - issued after a meeting in the Swiss city of the Action Group for Syria - lays out key steps in a process to end the violence. Among other items, it calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body, with full executive powers and made up by members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, as part of agreed principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition.

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