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Russian FM says issue of Syrian opposition coalition obscure, needs clarity

December 14, 2013, 21:03 updated at: December 14, 2013, 21:58 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, December 14, 21:00 /ITAR-TASS/. The minister recalled that he had repeatedly pointed out to his partners that “there is a good reason why the Syrian section of the Final Declaration of the G8 Summit in Lough Erne contains a call to the government and opposition -- meaning secular opposition that thinks about its country, the patriots of Syria - to pool efforts in the fight against terrorist and extremist groups that create a colossal and increasingly growing threat not only to Syria but also to the whole region.”

“Everyone would like the opposition to be represented by one delegation, but this will depend mainly on the ability of all leading opposition forces to agree among themselves that this unity at the talks would be based on a constructive platform that envisions full compliance with the Geneva Communique without preconditions,” the minister said earlier.

He believes that “those who are attaching preconditions to this simple formula do not help create an appropriate atmosphere for the success of Geneva II.”

The minister noted that the preconditions put forth by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces for its participation in Geneva II, including the resignation of President Assad, were not realistic.

“There seems to be general agreement with the fact that the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012 is a generally recognised ‘criterion of truth’ in the search for ways to settle the Syrian crisis. But in reality, some opposition groups are not prepared to work on the basis of this communique without preconditions,” Lavrov said.

He urged the Syrian opposition to pool its ranks on the basis of the Geneva Communique. In his opinion, the National Coalition is only a part of the Syrian opposition that represents a group of people most of whom are working from abroad.

“With the strong support provided by some countries in the region and the West, they represent an influential group of persons,” Lavrov said and stressed the need for the broadest possible range of Syrian groups to participate in Geneva II.

“We have no doubt that the opposition groups that have always worked inside Syria - the National Coordination Committee and Kurdish organisations - should be at the conference,” he said.

He cautioned against missing the chance of holding an informal meeting between members of the Syrian government and opposition in Moscow.

“To help our Western colleagues who have ventured to bring the opposition to a second conference in Geneva, we are ready to use our relations with the [Syrian] regime’s opponents which we have never broken. We met both in Moscow and in the region practically with all major opposition groups,” Lavrov said.

“If we succeed in prodding the opposition, even slightly, into expressing its readiness to participate in the conference in view of responsibility for its country, this perhaps will indicate that we have not wasted our effort, time and energy,” he added.

The goal of Geneva II would be to achieve a political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the Government and the opposition for the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted after the first international meeting on the issue on June 30, 2012.

The communique lays out key steps in a process to end the violence. Among others, 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.

At their talks in Moscow on May 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John 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.

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