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Russia proposes adopting UN resolution on antiterrorism efforts in Syria

February 11, 2014, 20:05 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Moscow proposes adopting UN Security Council resolution on the fight against terrorism in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday after talks with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane
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Ramtane Lamamra and Sergei Lavrov

Ramtane Lamamra and Sergei Lavrov

© ITAR-TASS/Anton Novoderezhkin

MOSCOW, February 11. /ITAR-TASS/. Moscow proposes adopting UN Security Council resolution on the fight against terrorism in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday after talks with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra.

The UN Security Council should pay attention to the “spread of terrorism in Syria” as “it is time to react,” the foreign minister said, adding that partners’ explanations like “we can’t do anything until [Syrian President Bashar] Assad is in power” mean an “attempt to justify terrorism.”

“A humanitarian crisis cannot be turned into a sphere of speculations and politicized attempts to again turn everything upside down and return to a military scenario,” Lavrov said.

“If partners are convinced the resolution is necessary, and they are seriously concerned about improving the humanitarian situation, we are ready to consider such a text,” he said.

The parties to the Syrian conflict returned to the negotiating table on Monday, February 10, after the first round of the Geneva-2 conference, which ended January 31, failed to bring any substantive results.

Geneva-2 was organized by Russia and the United States and seeks to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis which has claimed over 100,000 lives and displaced millions since its start in 2011, according to UN statistics.

A military scenario was narrowly avoided in Syria thanks to an international deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, mediated in September 2013, which prevented a likely US-led military intervention in the Middle East country.

The process of disarmament in Syria was launched after hundreds of civilians died in a chemical attack made on a Damascus suburb in August 2013. The most dangerous of Syria’s chemical weapons are to be destroyed at sea by the end of March, and the rest by June 30, 2014.

Lavrov recalled that the G8 leaders adopted, after their Lough Erne summit in Northern Ireland in June 2013, a communiquй, in which they called on the Syrian parties to unite in their fight against terrorism.

“All who signed the statement could actively cooperate to move the task to the sphere of a UN Security Council resolution,” he said. “This is rather timely.”

The Lough Erne G8 leaders’ Communiquй, in particular, said: “We are deeply concerned by the growing threat from terrorism and extremism in Syria, and also by the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict. Syria must belong to all Syrians, including its minorities and all religious groups.”

“We call on the Syrian authorities and opposition at the Geneva Conference jointly to commit to destroying and expelling from Syria all organizations and individuals affiliated to Al Qaeda, and any other non-state actors linked to terrorism,” it said.

The Russian foreign minister also said after his meeting with Lamamra on Tuesday that the Geneva Communique is a complex document, and separate provisions should not be removed from it.

“The [Syrian] government declared through delegation head, Foreign Minister [Walid] Muallem that it is ready to discuss all provisions of the Geneva Communique one by one. One provision cannot be removed from the communiquй, like opponents of the regime are trying to do,” Lavrov said, adding that the opposition insists on establishment of a transitional government but ignores other provisions of the document.

“The Geneva Communique contains a comprehensive approach to be guided by,” he said.

The Geneva Communique (or Geneva-1 Communique) was adopted on June 30, 2012 at a conference of an “action group” on Syria in Geneva. That conference is now commonly referred to as “Geneva-1.” Geneva-2 is a logical continuation of Geneva-1.

The Russian minister also said claims that the Syrian government is trying to protract discussions of the communiquй or even refuses to implement its provisions are untrue.

“The regime does not abandon the Geneva Communique, but is even ready to speak of its implementation item by item. We had to persuade our partners to influence opponents of the regime to make them sit down to the negotiating table. This only happened when the military situation began changing not in their favor,” he said.

Lavrov added that the number of extremist groups was increasing against that background. He lamented that despite their radical ideology, the groups still enjoyed foreign support.

“Flirting with extremists under the principle 'whoever they are, they are against the regime,' is very dangerous. We have already seen it in Iraq and Libya,” he said.

Lavrov also said there was an impression that attempts were being made to use “the humanitarian issue, like the chemical weapons issue in the past, to find an excuse to frustrate the settlement and enforce a military scenario to change the regime,” he said, adding that Moscow believed such an approach was counterproductive.

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