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MOSCOW, January 22. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. An international conference on Syria that is called the last chance to stop a civil war in the country will be launched in Switzerland on Wednesday. On the eve of the forum, named Geneva II, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon unexpectedly cancelled an invitation to Iran that had been extended from the UN a day earlier thus fulfilling the demands of an ultimatum issued by the Syrian opposition.
The Kommersant daily writes that “a day before the Geneva II beginning, the meeting has largely lost its practical sense due to the unexpected decision of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to recall the invitation to Iran to attend the forum that he had sent to Tehran on Monday.” “A demarche of the Syrian opposition made the UN head take this step. The official version of the invitation’s cancelling was that Iran allegedly did not recognize the communiqué of the previous conference on Syria — Geneva I.”
“Tehran’s absence at the forum is not the only reason for which the chances of Geneva II are dwindling considerably,” Kommersant believes. “While the Syrian opposition demands that (Syrian President) Bashar Assad step down, the president for his part makes derogatory statements against the supposed partners in the dialogue. On the eve of Geneva II, he expressed the view that membership of representatives of the Syrian opposition in the country’s future government is out of the question.”
“Apparently, one should not expect any breakthrough agreements from the negotiations (in any case, from their first round),” the newspaper writes in another article.
“On the first day, sensations are unlikely in any case. Some meaningful news may appear only after the first round of the inter-Syrian talks that will begin in Geneva on Friday and last seven or ten days. A break may be announced after that, and the second round will begin then, if necessary. Lakhdar Brahimi (UN and LAS joint special representative for Syria) will carry out a mediator mission at the negotiations in co-ordination with the Russian and U.S. experts. Moscow is expected to be represented at Geneva II by two diplomats. However, according to a Kommersant source in the Russian delegation, “the level of Russia’s and U.S. representatives may be upgraded, if need be.”
Anyway, Moscow regards the very fact of the Geneva II conference convening as a success. “Just three-four months ago, the conference seemed impossible,” said a Kommersant source in the Russian delegation. “Many players in the international arena want the negotiating process to be disrupted. However, despite this, representatives of the warring parties of the Syrian conflict have nevertheless arrived in Switzerland.”
“Most observers are extremely skeptical about the settlement prospects,” the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper stresses. Prominent political analysts and orientalist Georgy Mirsky commented to the newspaper on the Geneva II prospects that “it will certainly not stop the war.” “For the simple reason that the main — most bellicose, most furious groups that currently fight on the side of opponents of President Bashar Assad (Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), have already declared that they do not regard decisions that will be made at the forum as binding on them,” he said.
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