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Syrians to decide themselves when and how to continue Congress - ambassador

Preparations for the past Congress required great efforts both from Syria and from other counties

MOSCOW, February 10. /TASS/. Whether the Syrian National Dialogue Congress format should continue, when and where, is to be decided by the Syrians, Russia’s Ambassador to Damascus Alexander Kinshchak told TASS.

"Some participants in the Sochi forum expressed suggestions the format should continue, they also suggested the intra-Syrian dialogue should in their own country," he said. "Our position is that this is something the Syrians should decide - when and where to have further talks."

"We are always happy to help," he added.

Preparations for the past Congress required great efforts both from Syria and from other counties.

"We presented recommendations regarding candidates from the inner Syrian opposition, the civil society, religious representatives and representatives of tribes," he said in explaining work done by the Russian embassy in Syria. "We explained to future delegates our views on the Congress’s objectives. We tried to bring the Syrians to constructive dialogues."

"Taken the event’s unprecedented scale and the wide representation, most work was done outside Syria," the diplomat said. "Russian representatives cooperated actively with the Astana format’s counterparts from Iran and Turkey."

Thus, he continued, the joint efforts resulted in success of the forum, "which became a milestone on the way towards political settlement of the Syrian crisis."

"Now, we, as the event’s organizers, face another important and complicated task," he said. "We must use the achievements reached in Sochi to stimulate the political settlement process in line with Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council."

"We hope, the results will help the UN’s envoy Staffan de Mistura in giving impetus to the intra-Syrian talks on the Geneva platform," the Russian diplomat said. "Including in the framework of the constitutional commission, which is due to be formed."

On January 31, participants in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, adopted a 12-point statement outlining positions on their country’s future. The document stipulates Syria should maintain its sovereignty and territorial integrity, stressing at the same the Syrian people hold the prerogative to determine the country’s future through elections.

According to organizers, the Sochi Syrian Congress brought together 1,511 delegates representing all strata of Syrian society. Most of the participants (94.5%) were Arabs but there were also Kurds, Yazidis, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, Chechens, Dagestanis, Abkhazians, Turkomans and the Druze. Key regional and global players attended the event as observers. The forum’s key task was to organize a commission on the country’s new constitution. The Syrians also requested United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to assist them in setting up a constitutional commission, which mandate was to be specified at the Geneva talks.