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Syria now closer than ever to Geneva 2 peace conference

October 17, 2013, 13:08 UTC+3
Syria Popular Front for Change and Liberation seeks gradual sweeping changes
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AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev

AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev

MOSCOW, October 17 (Itar-Tass) - Syria is now closer than ever to the Geneva 2 conference on the Syrian conflict settlement, Syrian Vice Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, who is a leader of the country’s “internal opposition,” said at a news conference on Thursday.

According to him, representatives of the main political opposition and authorities will come to Geneva for the conference. “There is no other way out than convening the conference. Chances are high that the conference will take place,” he emphasised.

Jamil expressed the hope that the Syrian National Council (SNC) would change its mind about not participating in Geneva 2. “They will soon change their minds,” he said.

The opponents of Geneva 2 will end up outside the political process in Syria, Jamil believes. “There is no other way out, nobody has proposed an alternative,” he said. “In the current deadlock, this is a way out both from the military and political viewpoints - a way out for all - for Russia, which is playing a big role in the forum’s organisation, for the Americans, Syrian authorities and opposition. Those to fail to understand this will end up outside the political process.”

“At today’s meetings at the RF Foreign Ministry we have discussed the tentative, so far hypothetical dates for the conference,” he said.

Jamil stressed that the Geneva 2 conference is still the only way to settle the conflict. “Regardless of whether this conference is held within the expected timeframe, Geneva 2 is a platform for dialogue and mutual understanding,” he said.

He also said that the main objective of the conference is to create a coalition government that would reflect the real balance of forces in Syria. “The government should be established on a consensus basis and reflect the proportion of Syria’s various political forces. The scope of authority of the government, the president’s scope of authority are to be determined in Geneva,” he added, when asked how he sees the country’s new government that is planned to be created within the conference framework.

Jamil said that it is the path of the formation of a coalition government and subsequent elections that would be a democratic way out of the current crisis. At the same time, the support of only one side, as some Western countries do, will lead to the establishment of a one-party dictatorship, or the power of religious extremists. “We in Syria have abolished the article of the constitution, which establishes the primacy of one political force, party in public life. I am surprised that the West, which usually calls for freedom and democracy, is currently contributing, in fact, to the establishment of a one-party system in Syria,” he added.

Foreign interference

The convocation of the Geneva-2 conference will stop foreign interference into Syria, Qadri Jamil said.

There is no alternative to the conference, said Jamil, who is also head of the People’s Front for Liberation and Change.

“The key idea of the Geneva-2 conference is to create an expanded coalition government, which represent all circles of the society,” the Syrian vice-Prime Minister said, adding, “We’re glad that many countries favour the forum.”

“Of course, there are supporters of and opponents to the Geneva-2. But regardless these positions the idea is that there is no alternative to the conference. None has put forth the best proposal. The current situation in Syria can’t be like that. There is other way,” the vice-Prime Minister said.

At the same time, he noted that the coalition government “is only an instrument to achieve several goals - to stop foreign interference, to cease violence and to launch the peace process. All these goals are inter-related”.

“The convocation of the Geneva-2 will mean that foreign interference is stopped. Many countries try to interfere, but they are unable to achieve their goals. The political and armed opposition and certain Western countries oppose the conference,” Jamil said, adding, “They seek to circumvent the Syrian people, who back different groups of the opposition. And now it is rather strange to say anyone represents the Syrian people.”

Sweeping changes

The Syrian Popular Front for Change and Liberation comes out for sweeping changes in all spheres of the country’s life, but believes this must proceed gradually, Qadri Jamil, who is one of the front leaders, said.

“We come out for sweeping changes in the political, economic and social spheres, but they must be carried out gradually,” Jamil said.

“Some people call us moderate opposition, as we don’t take up arms. However, I believe the main criterion here is that we are seeking radical changes,” he added.

Jamil expressed doubts that armed fight could be considered a parameter of being in opposition. “Many of those who bear arms against the Syrian government don’t seek democratic changes, but only seek to redistribute the country’s riches in their favor,” Jamil added.

Missing Russian citizen

Syria will do everything possible to release Russian citizen Konstantin Zhuravlev, who is missing in the country, Syrian Vice-Premier emphasized.

“We’ll do everything possible for our friends,” he said.

Several days ago militants of the Islamic group Liwa al-Tawhid posted Zhuravlev’s passport copy on the Internet. Thus, they want to prove the Russian citizen was really in their hands, an official of the Syrian Security Service told Itar-Tass.

The official also said Islamists intended “to put on the records of interrogations, which will be started soon”.

Earlier, Syria’s security services said assumed that the missing Russian citizen might be in the hands of militants. “Zhuravlev might be kidnapped by militants of the Islamist group Liwa al-Tawhid, which says it detained ‘a Russian spy’,” the security services reported.

They said Zhuravlev, 1981, a resident of Tomsk, penetrated in Syria from Turkey without any grounds. Thus, he violated the Syrian law.

Zhuravlev is an experienced traveller and photographer. He is known-well in Tomsk and the Internet. From June 2010 to August 2012 he made a journey around the world alone. His first stopover was Sahara in the west of Egypt where the Russian stayed for three days by drinking water and juice.

He entered Syria from Turkey and was hitchhiking his way to the Sahara desert as part of a project called “Alone with the Desert,” when he was detained in Aleppo by Syrian rebels on suspicion of spying for the Syrian government and for Russia.

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