MOSCOW, April 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had a telephone conversation with the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, on Monday, April 21, to discuss the Syrian settlement.
Lavrov and Brahimi discussed “the Syrian settlement and peaceful solutions to the crisis” in Syria, the Foreign Ministry said. “Lavrov stressed the need for resuming the talks between the delegations of the Syrian government and the opposition,” it said.
Russia is ready to take interim steps towards resuming the Syria talks at the Geneva II international conference at the earliest opportunity, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva Alexei Borodavkin said earlier this month.
“We want the Syria talks to resume and a third round to be held as soon as possible, and we are ready to take interim steps towards that,” he said. “We could, for example, hold a new round of consultations between Russia, the United States and the United Nations.”
He believes that such consultations “should be aimed at giving an impetus to the negotiations”.
“A third round is not just possible, it is necessary. But both Syrian sides must show a constructive attitude for that,” Borodavkin said. “The opposition’s statements that it will not return to the negotiations until Russia changes its position can hardly be called constructive. It’s not clear what exactly they mean. These are irresponsible and ill-considered statements,” the diplomat said.
He believes it important for the opposition delegation led by the National Coalition to be more representative. “Unfortunately, the representatives we saw in Geneva are only a part of the National Coalition and not the most influential part as far as the internal political forces in Syria are concerned,” Borodavkin said. “We think that the united opposition delegation should also include other influential political groups such as the National Coordination Committee, Kurdish parties, the Popular Front for Change and Liberation, and other noticeable political figures in the Syrian opposition.”
Geneva II conference
The first two rounds of the Geneva II conference were held in late January and early February 2014 but yielded no result. Representatives of the Syrian government and the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces met at the same table for the first time in three years since the start of civil war in their country but failed to bridge the gap in their positions.
“The government delegation believes that the main task, at least at the first stage, is to stop hostilities and to pool efforts in fighting terrorism. The opposition focuses on the need to start forming a transitional governing body,” Borodavkin said. But the latter is hard to imagine, “if the bloodshed is not stopped, at least between the troops of the opposition that is represented in Geneva and the Syrian Armed Forces”.
“We are certainly somewhat disappointed and dissatisfied at the fact that the Syria talks have come to a halt,” he added. And yet, despite no major progress at the first two rounds “something was achieved”. “When the delegations were leaving (in February) they reaffirmed their readiness to follow the agenda proposed by Lakhdar Brahimi, specifically stopping the violence and fighting terrorism, forming a transitional governing body, transforming and preserving government institutions, and starting a national dialogue,” the diplomat said.
At the same time, he noted that the approaches of the two sides to this agenda were diametrically opposite. “Damascus insists on discussing one point after another, achieving results on each of them as is the standard international practice, but the opposition prefers to work on all these issues in parallel,” Borodavkin said.
The goal of the international conference on Syria is to achieve a political solution to the three-year-long conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the two sides for the full implementation of the Geneva communique, adopted after the first international meeting on the issue on June 30, 2012, and since endorsed by the UN Security Council.
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.
The basis of those talks is full implementation of an action plan adopted in the Geneva Communique of 2012, the first international conference on the conflict, which calls for setting up a transitional government that should then lead the country to free and fair elections.