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Russian diplomat: UN paying too much attention to Riyadh group of Syrian opposition

June 14, 19:46 UTC+3
According to Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin a principled conversation will be held with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura with participation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
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 Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin

© EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT

MOSCOW, June 14. /TASS/. The United Nations is paying too much attention to the Riyadh group of the Syrian opposition whereas the Damascus government is ready for talks, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Tuesday.

"A principled conversation will be held with United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura with participation of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon," Churkin said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel. "Talks are now in a suspended state. De Mistura is hesitating with convening another round of the intra-Syrian talks as he thinks that the negotiators are not yet ready."

"We explain to him that the Damascus government is ready, that there are sober-minded leaders and figures in various opposition groups," he said. "Too much attention is focused on the so-called Riyadh group."

"This group came to Geneva but practically refused to take part in the talks," the Russian diplomat noted. "They said, ‘Well, tell us when Bashar Assad steps down and we will resume talks.’ De Mistura is afraid that if he convenes another round it might end up in a complete failure."

"He seems to be too cautious," Churkin added.

Syrian Kurds' participation in Geneva talks

According to the diplomat hesitations of United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura as to participation of Syrian Kurds in Geneva talks are needless.

"De Mistura fears that if Syrian Kurds are invited, Turkey’s reaction will be sharply negative, and Turks are making no bones about it," he said.

"It is difficult to imagine Turkey’s conduct getting worse than it is now - they are fueling continuation of the conflict, that is why we believe that de Mistura’s hesitations here are excessive generally speaking, that it is necessary to act more resolutely in this direction," Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said.

According to Churkin, the US supports the stance taken by de Mistura, and believes consultations with Kurds are possible until the time of advanced discussion on Syria’s political future comes.

"Unlike us, the US does not insist on seeing Kurds directly involved in the talks right now," Churkin said. "Americans understand that the settlement is impossible without the Kurds, but they don’t insist on their immediately arriving in Geneva and participating in the negotiations activity together with the others," Churkin said.

UN reports hush up some states’ support for Syria terrorists

The role of Turkey and some other countries that render direct support to terrorist organizations in Syria is hushed up in reports of the UN secretary-general, Vitaly Churkin said.

"It would be good to have all I’s dotted and the t’s crossed. When a report on fight against terrorism is written, why not speaking about those who help terrorists?" the Russian diplomat asked.

"A new dangerous phenomenon has emerged within the Syrian context, when some countries practically openly support terrorist organizations, pursuing their geopolitical goals," Churkin said.

"I don’t believe that Islamic State could exist the way it exists without being fed from outside," he went on. Churkin said the conflict in Syria is lingering, taking a dramatic shape, and in these conditions many regional players willing to depose Syrian President Bashar Assad are ready to do things they earlier would not venture upon.

Direct replenishments from abroad were not seen earlier, Churkin explained. "When we were speaking about terrorist acts in Syria, we were told that the government also behaved badly - bombing civilian population etc.," he said.

"In other words, they refused to denounce terrorist attacks, thus giving terrorists a free hand. But then it came to direct support for terrorist organizations for the sake of achieving political goals, this time in order to topple Assad’s regime and in some way rebuild Syria the way that would fit within their geopolitical idea," Churkin said.

Russia to support Eastern Europe’s candidate for UN secretary general

Russia support the right of the Eastern European group to nominate a candidate for the United Nations’ next secretary general, Russia’s Permanent Representative said/

"We have several favorites," he said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel. "In general, we support the right of the Eastern European group to nominate its candidate but we should be realistic: there are a number of strong candidates not from Eastern Europe. So, nothing can be ruled out."

He said however that candidates from Eastern Europe enjoy political and psychological advantages. "But judging by certain steps taken by our Western partners, I am afraid they have some other visions of that matter," he said. "The first round preferential voting that is due to take place on July 21 will show how things are."

"Currently, a feverish campaign is underway concerning the elections of a new secretary general, with everyone expecting something from the one who takes this post," the Russian diplomat said. "What can depend on this person is how the United Nations positions itself, maybe, more efficient mediation in some peacekeeping efforts, given Ban Ki-moon has done much in this respect. But the United Nations is first of all its member states, and concerning the problems of peace, it is the Security Council, and the United Nations Security Council is first of all its permanent members, and in this context the Russia-US relations are of major importance."

"Synergy, combination of efforts are needed," Churkin stressed. "let us hope a new secretary general will be able to achieve this, to take part in it."

The current Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who took his office on January 1, 2007, is to leave the post on December 31, 2016 when his second term expires. Under the current rules, he cannot run for a third five-year office term. Notably, it has been agreed not to elect to this post representatives from either of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, namely Russia, China, Great Britain, the United States and France, to ensure the secretary general’s maximum objectiveness.

In the meantime, none of the eight secretaries general has ever represented Eastern Europe. More to it, all of them were men.

Under the existing procedure, a candidate is to be recommended by the United Nations Security Council to be approved by at least two thirds of the 193 member states at the General Assembly.

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