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Lavrov: Syria’s National Coalition has no viable program for the people

November 16, 2013, 18:22 UTC+3 112 ¶ ¶ PETROPAVLOVSK KAMCHATSKY
Earlier, opposition welcomed the decision of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces to take part in Geneva II conference
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© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Pochuev

PETROPAVLOVSK KAMCHATSKY, November 16, /ITAR-TASS/. Syria’s National Coalition has no constructive platform for people except for its call for the change of government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“The National Coalition [for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces] is not the only mechanism of the Syrian opposition,” the minister told the Postskriptum television program on Saturday, November 16. “The Coalition consists mainly of people who emigrated from Syria to Europe and other countries a long time ago. They are now concerned with working out their position because apart from changing the regime they have no constructive platform to offer to the Syrian population.”

“I do not think they have much support within Syria because the structures operating there are made up not of emigrants but of those who have never left Syria and who work in the opposition that is not loyal to the regime,” Lavrov said.

“There is the opposition that is prepared to cooperate with the present government, but there are also those who believe it important to talk about some new transitional forms and consider the Geneva Communique a good opportunity to start moving along this road, especially now that the Syrian regime has stated its readiness to give a positive reply to the Russian-American initiative to convene Geneva II and work on the basis of last year’s Communique without preconditions,” he said.

“There are also combat units subordinated to different political forces and there are those who are not subordinated to anyone, who oppose the regime but are convinced of the need to preserve the secular nature of the state. And there are extremists and terrorist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and other of Al-Qaeda’s off-springs which openly state their intention to create a caliphate in Syria and around it. These ideas are also preached by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a group that has recently distanced itself from Al-Qaeda. So there are a variety of groups with differing ideologies and approaches to the future of the country,” Lavrov noted.

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.”

The internal Syrian opposition welcomed the decision of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces to take part in Geneva II, Qadri Jamil, leader of Syria’s Popular Front for Change and Liberation, said at a press conference in Moscow this week.

“As for the National Coalition, its decision to go to Geneva is positive,” he said. In his opinion, the coalition’s conditions for participation it the meeting are not preconditions but rather post-conditions as to what should be done after the conference.

“They can say at the talks whatever they like, but it is important that they come to Geneva. This will make a compromise possible,” Jamil said.

He said Geneva II had not been convened earlier because of the position assumed by the external opposition. “But now the issue has been resolved and the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces will participate in Geneva II,” he said.

At the same time, he noted that the National Coalition did not represent the whole opposition. “There are many organisations within the opposition, and we do not even agree with Russia that only one delegation should be invited [to Geneva]. There can be no common platform for the opposition,” Jamil said.

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