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Russia welcomes Syrian opposition’s intention to take part in Geneva process

February 12, 2014, 22:20 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, February 12, 22:09 /ITAR-TASS/. Moscow welcomes the intention of the constructive Syrian opposition to take part in the Geneva process, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Wednesday, February 12.

“We believe that broad support from all forces interested in the political settlement will be needed for working out complex compromises through the inter-Syrian dialogue that could stop the fratricidal war in Syria and for ensuring their subsequent implementation,” he said.

“In the run-up to the inter-Syrian dialogue on the basis of the June 30, 2012 Geneva Communique Russia called for engaging with all influential Syrian opposition organisations that can negotiate with the government of Syria for a political settlement of the crisis in Syria, Lukashevich said. “We believe that all Syrian sides wishing to participate in the Geneva process should be given such an opportunity.”

During contacts with American partners and the leaders of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, including during Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s meeting with its leader Ahmad al-Jarba on February 4, “we stressed the need to enlarge the opposition delegation to Geneva,” the spokesperson said. “We strongly advised the leadership of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces to come to agreement with the National Coordination Body on the joint participation in the Geneva process.”

Such talks between the leaders of the National Coalition and the National Coordination Body took place in Cairo ahead of the second round of the Geneva talks. “As far as we know, [they] discussed the form of equal participation of the National Coalition and the National Coordination Body in forming a joint delegation from the opposition. However at the last minute, the National Coalition rejected the agreed upon plan,” Lukashevich said.

According to the National Coordination Body officials, al-Jarba and his team are not prepared to give up the status of “the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” which they received from external sponsors and do not want to lose their monopoly right to participate in the negotiations with the government of Syria on behalf of the entire opposition, he said.

“The National Coordination Body announced the decision to hold its own unifying conference and invite all external and internal opposition forces seeking to find a negotiated settlement to the Syrian crisis to attend it. It has been stated that the goal is to work out a common negotiation platform and press for an invitation to Geneva as a separate delegation,” Lukashevich said.

At their talks in Moscow on May 7, 2013, Russian Foreign Minister 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.

If the international conference on Syria known as Geneva II is attended only by the Syrian opposition from abroad, the forum will be useless, Lavrov said earlier.

“Our main task now is that our American partners and those who communicate with the opposition most often, with all of its wings, and those who have more influence on the whole opposition than we do, that they tell us what it is like now,” the minister said.

“The opposition should be represented at a proper level in its entirety, not by one group, the legal capacity of which raises big questions, given the mess and confusion within it, as well as its thrashing around when it comes to Geneva II [international conference],” the minister said.

The government of Syria said it was hopeful that Russia will put pressure on the United States to make the opposition delegation to the Geneva II international conference more representative, the Syrian president’s adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said in late January.

“We expect Russia to exert a bit more pressure on the U.S. so that all sides of the Syrian opposition were represented at the forum,” she said, adding that “Russia is trying to do so and is taking effort towards that.”

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.

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