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Syria’s opposition insists Constitutional Committee be moved to Damascus

The official blamed Syria's government and the opposition for slowing down the negotiations process

MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Syria’s Constitutional Committee should be moved from Geneva to Damascus and work under the United Nations auspices, Qadri Jamil, the leader of the so-called Moscow group of the Syrian opposition and the leader of Syria’s Popular Front for Change and Liberation, said on Tuesday.

"The Constitutional Committee should move to Damascus and act under the United Nations brokerage. It’s work must not be formal, it must be real," he said citing the Moscow group’s statement.

He put the blame for the slow work of the Constitutional Committee on internal forces. In his words, both parties — the government and the opposition — are advancing preliminary conditions, which slows down the negotiating process. "The pace of the Geneva process is extremely slow. It takes two weeks to settle an issue that can be resolved in seven days," he said, adding that the United Nations is spending millions of dollars to organize the process in Geneva.

"Who is interested in protracting these negotiations? We, the Moscow group, suggest they be moved to Damascus so that the regime pays the expenses. In this case, probably, the talks will not be that long," Jamil noted.

He stressed that Syria’s new constitution should be elaborated in Syria. "We have a long history of statehood construction. We helped six states to write their constitutions and now we have to discuss ours in Geneva. Are we unable to discuss this constitution in Damascus, in our country?," he exclaimed.

According to Jamil, some of the opposition activists are simply afraid of returning to Syria. "All members of the Moscow group are in Syria, except myself. I am staying in Moscow. If others have any problems, just tell us and we will help," he added.

He called on the parties to stop arguing, accusing each other and setting preconditions, as Syria’s future depends on the Constitutional Committee.

The second meeting of Syria’s Constitutional Committee finished in Geneva on November 29. It was originally planned that the 45 members of the so-called small group would gather for talks in one room but in the long run United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen had to discuss the agenda with each of the delegations separately.

After the consultations, the UN envoy commented that the government and the opposition had failed to agree on what they planned to hash over. So, the general meeting could not be held without the agenda.