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Russian envoy: Syrian army victory in Palmyra creates good background for talks

April 13, 8:36 UTC+3 GENEVA
According to Alexey Borodavkin, the Syrian authorities feel more confident now and are ready to continue constructive search for compromises on the transitional period in the country
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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

GENEVA, April 13. /TASS/. The victory of the Syrian army over terrorists in Palmyra with Russia’s support creates a positive background for talks in Geneva, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva told TASS.

The Syrian authorities feel more confident now and are ready to continue constructive search for compromises on the transitional period in the country, Alexey Borodavkin said.

"I would not say they are fundamental, but changes in the situation do happen," he said in reply to the query whether there had been major changes in the international situation since the previous round of intra-Syrian talks.

"Changes are seen in Syria. The main of them is that with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces, the Syrian armed forces liberated Palmyra from terrorists making part of DAESH (Islamic State, a terrorist group outlawed in Russia)," he said.

"This, without exaggeration, is a big victory over this terrorist group that, as we know, has seized large territories both in Iraq and in Syria," he went on.

"And of course, the victory won has its influence, as the Syrian armed forces and the Syrian authorities feel more confident, feel that they have achieved with Russia’s support what the armed Syrian opposition, which as they themselves and those who are behind them say is fighting against Daesh, had failed to achieve in years," Borodavkin said.

"I think this is not the last victory won, that an advance on positions of Islamic State in Syria will be continued. And this creates a respective positive background for a next round of negotiations," the diplomat said.

The diplomat noted that judging by statements made by the Syrian president, the leadership of the Syrian Foreign Ministry and members of the Syrian government delegation that arrives for talks on April 15, "they will continue in Geneva their constructive course aimed at achieving compromise agreements on a transitional period in Syria, on involving the moderate opposition in administration of the Syrian Arab Republic".

"It is also important to note that as before, the Syrian government delegation is open for cooperation with the opposition on fight against terrorism in Syria," Borodavkin added.

Direct talks on Syria with several groups of the opposition possible

The Russian official has also pointed out that the concurrent presence of several groups of Syrian opposition in Geneva is not an invincible obstacle for starting direct negotiations, as they are ripe.

"In our opinion, it’s a long-felt need to have negotiations conducted directly between the government delegation and the delegations of the opposition," he went on.

"This is "the Moscow-Cairo-Astana group, the group from Hmeimim and the group set on the basis of the High Negotiations Committee in Riyadh," he said.

"It appears that in order to find points of coincidence, Damascus should use all possibilities offered by the Geneva negotiations format and look for compromises with all these groups," he went on.

"As for consolidation of the opposition, I think that as the authorities and the opposition progress towards a more substantive direct conversation, such consolidation will be inevitably happening," he said.

The envoy said the final decisions as to parameters of the future political structure in Syria were only up to the Syrian people themselves.

"Russia, and as we understand the United States, are trying to help the parties as well as to the UN to see these negotiations resultative, proceeding positively and progressing," Borodavkin said.

"At all stages of intra-Syrian contacts, dialogue and now talks, we meet with all representatives from both the authorities and the opposition and try to set them for constructive talks in a positive atmosphere, to make them help Staffan de Mistura find ways to accord and help them reach agreement," he said. "I mean, first of all, the Moscow-Cairo-Astana and Khmeimim groups, as well as representatives from among the negotiators from the High Negotiations Committee."

"I had contacts with them during the previous round," Borodavkin said. "I hope such contacts will take place this time too. But of course, I mean those of the HNC delegation who sticks to a balanced, moderate position but not radical who advance only threats and ultimatums."

Turkey’s blackmail over Kurds at Syria talks inadmissible

According to the diplomat, blackmail from Turkey, threatening that intra-Syrian talks will be derailed if the Kurds are invited, is absolutely inadmissible.

"We continue demanding that representatives of all political forces having influence in Syria be presented in the opposition participating in the negotiations, and we insist that the Syrian Kurds be invited to these talks," Borodavkin said.

"It is absolutely inadmissible for us to unfortunately see our partners on negotiations and UN officials yielding to blackmail of Turkey, which threatens that negotiations will be disrupted if the Syrian Kurds are invited to them," he said.

"But we hope that common sense and resolute approach to this issue will prevail, and the Kurds will have a rightful place at the table of negotiations," Borodavkin said.

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