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Hmeimim group of Syrian opposition ready for direct talks with Syrian government

March 17, 9:07 UTC+3
The Hmeimim group of the Syrian opposition intends to prepare a new draft constitution, and they already have a program for overcoming the crisis
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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

GENEVA, March 17. /TASS/. The Hmeimim group of the Syrian opposition is ready for direct contacts with representatives of the Syrian government at Geneva talks, the group’s leader Ilian Masaad told TASS on Thursday.

"We are ready to hold direct talsk," Masaad said. "We have held several meetings with representatives of the Syrian government in the unofficial format," he added noting that "there were never any official meetings."

Half of Syrians support Assad

According to Ilian Masaad, Syrian President Bashar Assad enjoys considerable support in the country, and calls for his resignation are destroying the country.

"Problems with current people from Riyadh [Syrian opposition group formed after the meeting in Riyadh] have been the same over the last five years. They say that Asad should go. But half of Syrians are with him. What are such calls doing? Destroying Syria," Masaad said.

"They think that the US army should come to help them kill Assad while we will get a car, a bureau and a presidential palace. But this option does not exist. It’s fake," he went on.

Elections should be held in order to end the war, Masaad said. "Assad is a Syrian, and he will decide on whether he will take part in the election or not. If he wants to run in the election - it is his right to do so," he added.

New parliamentary election should follow adoption of new Syrian constitution

The Hmeimim group of the Syrian opposition intends to prepare a new draft constitution, and they already have a program for overcoming the crisis which will be presented to UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

"We will present several documents [to de Mistura]," Masaad said.

"We have a program for overcoming this crisis. We have other projects as well. We are trying to decide now how to prepare a draft of the new democratic and secular Constitution that will be suitable for everyone," he added. "Without this, we will not stop the current insane bloodshed," Masaad noted.

The meeting between the Hmeimim group and de Mistura is planned for March 18.

"I am for total decentralization," Masaad said. "Authors of the federalization idea do not explain what they mean. How is it possible to divide Syria in three-four parts? There is something unclear in such proposals, and it is bad," he added.

Masaad noted that the main thing are not terms but their essence. "If someone wants to call it a federation, I have nothing against this," he said. "The main thing is that no one is talking about dividing the country. This means that the climate of war will persist forever," he added.

"Total decentralization is needed - apart from ministries of foreign affairs, defense, central bank, army. There are some spheres where it is impossible," Masaad said outlining his vision of Syria’s future administrative system.

"We are a political formation, which includes 15 parties and movements. We have long been working to make sure that a big political movement, democratic and secular, appears in Syria…" he said. "When the crisis broke out in 2011, we said that the only way for a country where there are many ethnic groups and religious movements the only way is secularism."

The leader also pointed out that Syrian government’s plans to hold parliamentary election on April 13 do not cancel the need to hold them again after adopting a new constitution.

"The mandate of the parliament is running out, so the government has to hold election [on April 13 as previously announced by Damascus]. If there are no election, it will lose its legitimacy," Masaad said. "However, this does not change anything. When a new constitution is adopted, we will again have to go to ballot boxes," he added.

Masaad leads the delegation of internal Syrian opposition at Geneva talks which became known as the Hmeimim group.

According to TASS, the Hmeimim group includes doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalists, social activities representing the Syrian organization "National Action," "Democratic Action in Syria" movement, "Secular Democracy" organization, "National Youth" and "Syrian Fatherland" parties, as well as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and others.

Ilian Masaad is Doctor of Laws, general secretary of the "National Conference" party that supports unified secular state, democratic activist, official representative of the "Syrian National Workers’ Party."

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