Action Group for Syria June 30 Geneva Meeting Synopsis
by Lady Michelle-Jennifer Santos, Founder & Publisher, Political Strategist, and Strategy/Peace Negotiator with the UN Security Council Special Envoy to the Arab Nations
June 30, 2012 (TSR) - The Action Group for Syria convened at the Ministerial level this Saturday 30 June 2012, in Geneva at the Palais des Nations, started 11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT) and lasted until Saturday afternoon which was aimed to make a declaration on next steps to resolve the 16-month-long Syrian conflict.
The objections of the meeting were to identify steps and measures to secure full implementation of the six-point plan and Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043, including an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms.
UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan (C) talks with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva on June 30, 2012. Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – attended the meeting along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in Geneva on Saturday.
Annan hopes that the action group would also agree on guidelines and principles for a Syrian-led political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, and agree on actions that will make these objectives a reality on the ground.
Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – will attend the meeting along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton will be present at the meeting.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby attends the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 30, 2012. Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – attended the meeting along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in Geneva on Saturday.
SAUDI ARABIA, LEBANON, JORDAN and IRAN DID NOT ATTEND BUT IRAN WAS BRIEFED AND CONSULTED PER PHONE
Regretting Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan and Lebanon would not take part on the talks on Saturday with foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Lavrov said: “The Russian proposal on this has met unsurmountable objections from the U.S. side, especially on the part concerning Iran.”
Major regional players Iran and Saudi Arabia were not invited. The Russians objected to the Saudis, who support the Syrian opposition. The United States objected to Iran, which supports Mr. al-Assad’s regime. Mr. Lavrov predicted the meeting had a “good chance” of finding a way forward, despite the grim conditions on the ground.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has always supported that Iran should be included to any international meeting in Geneva, saying it “would complicate the process” if Tehran were to be shut out.
Western countries such as USA and Britain were vehemently against Iran’s attendance since they claim that Iran is a partner in the existing situation in Syria; hence, Iran’s presence in this conference will not be helpful in solving the crisis. On the other hand, we have heard harsh statements recently from Israeli officials in this regard, accusing Iran of being the main reason behind Syria’s current situation. It seems that they are trying to put even more pressure on Iran by linking the Syrian crisis to Iran. Israel knows well that Syria is Iran’s communication link with Hezbollah, and it believes that cutting this connection can help reduce Iran’s influence in the region. This is an idea that Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, agree with, and they believe that removing Bashar Assad from power will stop communication in the Shiite Crescent. Furthermore, if Bashar Assad refuses to step aside, it is probable that, in reference to recent massacres in Syria, a case will be created against him in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. And, as they have been doing in the past few months, they will try to link this to Iran as well.
However, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi and UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan discussed Syrian issue on the phone ahead of the Geneva talks, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Saturday.
Salehi outlined Iran’s position on Syrian nation and Bashar al- Assad’s reform plan and appreciated Annan’s efforts.
Salehi expressed hope that the results of the Saturday meeting on Syria in Geneva would help for establishment of peace and security in Syria and in the region.
Iranian Foreign Minister rejected any foreign interference in Syria and terrorist attacks towards Syrian nation and said, “The approach for settlement of Syrian issue is merely political and imposition of demands of other countries on Syrian nation is an illogical issue,” said the report.
Annan outlined the latest developments on Geneva talks and stressed Iran’s significant role in resolving Syrian issues.
The two also agreed to continue consultations.
Regarding Jordan’s position, King Abdullah II on Tuesday reiterated support for finding a political solution to address the crisis in Syria, the state-run Petra news agency also reported.
After meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Jordanian leader voiced support for a political solution in Syria that preserves the country’s unity and stability and ends violence and bloodshed in the country.
On the Mideast peace process, the two leaders underlined the need for intensified international efforts to attain peace in the region based on the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
In this regard, King Abdullah underlined the key role Russia plays in pushing the peace process forward.
ANNAN APPEALED UNITY INSTEAD OF POLITICAL AGENDAS DAYS BEFORE GENEVA
UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan on Friday appealed to participants in a Saturday meeting on Syria to “act in unison” to end the bloodshed in the Middle East country, pointing to deep involvement by external powers which is contributing to a worsening situation there.
“Many external powers are deeply involved,” the former UN chief wrote in an article for noting “Despite formal unity behind the six-point plan, mutual mistrust has made them work at cross-purposes.”
He said, “It is time for all who have influence on the parties, and all who bear responsibility for international peace and security, to act positively for peace,” and that ”the participants include those with influence on the Syrian government and its opposition. Members must commit to act in unison to end the bloodshed and implement the six-point plan, avoiding further militarization of the conflict.”
“It is abundantly clear that the violence will not stop without joint, sustained pressure from those with influence, including consequences for noncompliance,” he also noted.
“But something more is essential. I expect all who attend Saturday’s meeting to agree that a Syrian-led transition process must be achieved in accordance with clear principles and guidelines,” the envoy wrote.
His new proposals also envision a Syrian government of national unity including members of the present government and the opposition. “But those whose continued presence and participation would undermine the credibility of the transition and jeopardize stability and reconciliation would be excluded,” he wrote.
“The future government in Syria”, Annan said in his op-ed, “must include a government of national unity that would exercise full executive powers.”
In other words, the proposal does not explicitly bar Assad, but the U.S. and other Western powers that will participate in the conference said that is obvious and that the Syrian opposition will not sign on to the plan unless it excludes Assad.
THE GENEVA CLOSED DOOR MEETING
UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan on Saturday urged world and regional powers to unite in order to find a solution to the Syria crisis as ministers started a close-door meeting in Geneva.
UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan (C) speaks during the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 30, 2012. Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – attended the meeting along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in Geneva on Saturday.
Annan said in his opening remarks at the Action Group on Syria meeting that relevant countries have to make a clear choice between “either unite to secure your common interests; or divide, and surely fail each in your own individual way” as “an international crisis of grave severity now looms.”
He warned of the extreme dangers posed by the conflict to Syrians, to the region and to the world.
“In a scenario of open competition between outside powers, the outcome of this crisis will be measured not by gains made but by who suffers least,” he said, adding no one acting alone can succeed without the cooperation of all players.
“Without unity between you, any action by one will lead to the opposite reaction by another, thwarting the aims of either side. We have already seen this taking place, and it is the Syrian people that suffer horrendous consequences as long as this goes on,” he said.
He said it is clear that Syria must have a democratic and pluralistic future that complies with international standards on human rights and protects the rights of all communities.
“This means there has to be a political process and this requires a government of transition, a government of national unity including women and men who are non-reproachable,” the joint envoy said.
“This also requires a meaningful national dialogue, a constitutional revision process subject to popular approval and free and fair multiparty elections. Functioning institutions that safeguard this process are also essential,” he said.
IRAQ WANT PEACEFUL SOLUTION FOR SYRIA
Iraq was included in the participants due to their experience over the past years which is considered of great help to push all of the Syrian parties to reach a solution. They have always been supportive in the Syrian people’s cause of gaining democracy and freedom. Furthermore, Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government has maintained close ties with Syria, whose President Bashar al-Assad is a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari (L) speaks during the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 30, 2012. Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – attended the meeting along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in Geneva on Saturday.
Iraq has vocally expressed readiness to support international effort to find a political solution, not security one, for the Syrian crisis, asking to pursue non-intervention policy.
Iraq itself, has suffered from violence and sectarian strife that engulfed the country during the past years after the U.S.-led invasion and was only partially quelled by the withdrawal of U.S. troops late last year from the country and efforts of national reconciliation.
Iraq’s main concern is that the crisis might spill over into the neighboring countries, as no country is immune to such a spillover because of the composition of the societies in these countries.
RUSSIAN FM LAVROV AND US Secretary of State Clinton FRIDAY MEETING AT ST. PETERSBURG
Washington and its allies have been pushing for the Syrian president to step aside to make way for a political transition and have been using media to cloud and even distort Russia’s “claims” in order to get their way.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attends the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva on June 30, 2012. Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – attended the meeting along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in Geneva on Saturday.
According to an editorial at The Washington Post, “In the run-up to the Geneva meeting, they quarreled about whether Iran or Saudi Arabia should be at the table. Neither will be. Mr. Annan circulated a preliminary document that implied that Mr. Assad would have to step down in any Syrian transition, as the United States and others have sought, but it was met with opposition from Russia, Syria’s ardent backer.
Annan’s plan does not call for Assad’s ouster, but pushes for the creation of a transitional government that would exclude figures that jeopardize stability.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continuously reiterated Russia’s opposition to any outside intervention in Syria or imposition of directions on Damascus which also applies to Bashar al-Assad’s destiny. Russia vehemently thinks it is senseless to press Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quit office.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (Front) attends the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva on June 30, 2012. Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – attended the meeting along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in Geneva on Saturday.
“This scheme does not work from the beginning. It is incapable because he will not go,” Lavrov told Russian local media few days prior.
The top Russian diplomat said at least half of the Syrians voted for Assad during the latest elections, seeing him as a guarantor of their future and security. Assad’s future must be decided by the Syrians themselves, he added.
The minister also said that Russia would continue to execute contracts signed long ago with Damascus on arms supply.
“We violate nothing and will go on fulfilling our contract obligations, which does not exceed the UN Security Council restrictions,” he said.
Few days prior, Lavrov also talked to UN-Arab League joint special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan on the phone. According to the foreign ministry’s website, the two discussed ways of international cooperation for an early political, diplomatic settlement of the Syria crisis.
On the eve of Saturday’s conference, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met one-on-one for about an hour in St. Petersburg, Russia, but could not reach agreement on key elements of U.N. envoy Kofi Annan’s proposed plan for a Syrian political transition, officials said.
Lavrov voiced cautious optimism about the upcoming talks stressing that Friday’s meeting with Clinton in St Petersburg was “one of the most productive” so far. “Syria dominated the international affairs section. I felt Hillary Clinton’s position has changed,” Lavrov said after the meeting. “She said she understands our position. We have agreed with Hillary Clinton to look for agreements on Syria which would bring us closer together,” he added.
As Hillary Clinton did not give a press conference following the meeting with her Russian counterpart, it is hard to see whether the US position has actually changed, RT’s Lucy Kafanov remarked from St Petersburg.
The United States and its allies attending the conference are adamant that the plan will not allow Assad to remain in power as part of the transitional government, but Russia insists that outsiders cannot dictate the composition of the interim administration or the ultimate solution to the crisis.
“(We) agreed to look for an agreement that will bring us closer based on a clear understanding of what’s written in the Annan plan that (all) sides in Syria need an incentive for a national dialogue,” Lavrov said after meeting Clinton, according to the Interfax news agency.
“But it’s only up to the Syrians to make agreements on what the Syrian state will be like, who will hold (government) jobs and positions,” he said. Lavrov predicted the meeting had a “good chance” of finding a way forward. “But I am not saying that we will agree on every dot.”
CHINA GIVES FOUR-POINT PROPOSAL
China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has also consistently urged all parties in respecting Syria to earnestly fulfill their commitments to cease fire and violence, ensure the safety of the UNSMIS, the UN Observers’ mission headed by Norwegian Major General Robert Mood that was suspended earlier this month, and fully implement the six-point plan sponsored by Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League joint special envoy to Syria. Today, the Chinese FM will elaborate on China’s stance on the conflict, extend support for the mediation efforts of joint special envoy Syria Kofi Annan, promote the implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the six-point peace plan brokered by Annan and sustain momentum for the creation of a political solution to the conflict.
China holds a non-interventionist foreign policy for years and advocates peaceful development and harmony, respecting national sovereignty. They with Russia are stern in protecting Syrian sovereignty and do not wish the same fate that Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Saturday made a four-point proposal at the meeting.
“First, we should stick to the correct direction of seeking a political settlement.”
Political dialogue, he said, is the only practical way to resolve the Syrian crisis.
“We call on the international community, particularly members of the Action Group, to urge in a balanced way the Syrian government and the opposition to earnestly implement Mr. Kofi Annan’s six-point proposal and relevant Security Council resolutions, put an end to fighting and violence, protect civilians, start as soon as possible an inclusive political dialogue with no preconditions attached and no prejudged outcomes, and jointly push forward the political process,” he said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi attends the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva on June 30, 2012. Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – attended the meeting along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in Geneva on Saturday.
He urged relevant parties in Syria to act in a responsible way toward the Syrian people and respond in a positive and serious manner to the concerns of the international community.
Second, the Chinese foreign minister said, “We should give firm support to Mr. Kofi Annan’s mediation efforts.”
“China appreciates Mr. Kofi Annan’s active mediation efforts. We believe that his mediation provides an important channel and practical way in seeking a political settlement of the Syrian issue,” he said.
Yang called on the international community, at this critical moment, to have firm confidence, continue to give full support to Annan’s mediation efforts, support the work of the UN Supervision Mission, and play a positive and constructive role.
“China does not approve of setting a time frame or obstacles regarding Mr. Kofi Annan’s mediation or the implementation of his six-point proposal,” he said.
Third, Yang said all parties should truly respect the independent choice of the Syrian people.
“China attaches importance to the content related to a transition in Syria in the draft communique proposed by Mr. Kofi Annan. We speak positively of the commitment to a political settlement and a Syrian-led plan, its respect for Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, and its call for an inclusive national dialogue,” he said.
“At the same time, we believe that any political settlement can only be led by the Syrian people and has to be acceptable to the relevant parties in Syria. No outsiders should make the choice for the Syrian people. China is against imposing a plan on Syria,” Yang said.
Fourth, Yang called on all parties to have a sense of urgency and at the same time remain patient in seeking a political settlement.
“The Syrian issue is complex and sensitive… The relevant parties should sustain the momentum of dialogue, fully accommodate the concerns of all parties, and build more consensuses through patient dialogue and thorough consolations, thus sending a unified message to the various parities in Syria and the broader international community,” he said.
“In so doing, they should bear in mind the fundamental interests of the Syrian people and the overall interests of peace and stability in the region, and observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations,” he added.
BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER WILLIAM HAGUE REMARKS
In his remarks to the Syria Action Group Meeting in Geneva, the Foreign Secretary said:
“We face a heavy responsibility today. The world is looking to us for leadership and action to end the bloodshed and horror in Syria. We should heed the Secretary General’s words on this.
“We have a choice:
“We can unite around a robust and effective plan to achieve a ceasefire and a political transition in Syria and we can agree to give this plan the force and backing of a UN Security Council Resolution. Armed with that, we can launch a concerted attempt to halt the violence once and for all.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) talks with his British counterpart William Hague at the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva on June 30, 2012. Foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – attended the meeting along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq in Geneva on Saturday.
“Or, we can fail to overcome these differences, miss the opportunity to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough, and watch the situation deteriorate further. Of course, we benefit from having a six- point plan in front of us.
“The cost of any such failure would be counted by the people of Syria in lives lost and injuries sustained, livelihoods wrecked and suffering endured.
“I think it would embolden all those who think they can fight their way to victory, and give space for extremist groups to establish a foothold.
“It could turn a humanitarian crisis into a catastrophe.
“The Secretary General has already said he would need to withdraw observers.
“And it would be felt by the region in dangerous instability and the emergence of new threats.
“This would be against the interests of every country in this room, as well as the world as a whole.
“Achieving progress today requires us to move beyond previously agreed language and Resolutions. We cannot simply camp on previous texts, or recycle old statements. We need concrete steps that will enable us to implement the Annan Plan and the plan for transition. Without this, there is no hope of changing the situation on the ground.
“For a plan of action to be credible, in the view of the UK, it requires five elements:
“First, it must set out a clearly defined timetable for irreversible steps to achieve a Transitional Government of National Unity and a new constitutional order. Such a timetable would give confidence and certainty to the people of Syria. It would impose obligations on all sides. And it would ensure that all members of this action group must have a shared understanding of actions which will flow from this meeting.
“Second, the steps that we agree today, and here I disagree with my colleague Sergei Lavrov, will require swift endorsement from the UN Security Council in the form of a Chapter VII Resolution. Without that and the prospect of penalties for non-compliance, there can be little credible pressure on the Syrian regime and other parties to change course. If we could get them to change course without a chapter VII resolution for acting together, we would have achieved this already. We believe that discussions on a text should begin next week and rapidly be concluded. All the P5 must shoulder their international responsibilities.
“Third, we think that transition can only begin with a genuine ceasefire. The onus is on the Assad regime to make the first move, as set out in previous UN Security Council Resolutions and the Annan Plan. The responsibility to end the violence is overwhelmingly theirs. And there is no equivalence between the organised army and security forces of a State, and civilians who have turned to arms to defend their homes with no barracks to withdraw to.
“Fourth, President Assad and his closest associates cannot credibly lead the process of transition in Syria. This is a statement of fact, reflecting reality now that so much blood has been spilt. Their failed leadership is now the prime cause of the instability and crisis in Syria. Their involvement would condemn transition to failure before it had begun, since it inevitably would be seen as an attempt to cling to power. Equally we must convince the opposition of the need to involve all sides in a Unity Government, and to preserve key state structures to prevent a security vacuum in Syria.
“Fifth, in our view the transition must involve representatives of all Syrian communities. I welcome the meeting of opposition groups in Cairo next week. We have an opportunity today to urge them to unite and to put forward principles which they can support. As part of a transition process there will also need to be accountability for criminal acts that have been committed. It will be for the Syrian people to decide how this should be addressed, but we are determined to ensure there is sufficient focus on this important issue.
“None of us seek military action in Syria.
“None of us seek to impose a solution on the Syrian people.
“None of us seek to change regional power structures, or affect long-standing national interests in Syria.
“I believe all of us wish to see a peaceful Syrian-led settlement, and a stable, sovereign and free Syria. I thank Kofi Annan and his team for their tireless efforts, and our Arab League colleagues for their continued leadership and resolve. In the guidelines you have put forward we would be giving them the opportunity to achieve this. The most effective way is to support Kofi and his team as we’re not going to have a better time to achieve this.
“It is time for all of us to act with urgency and determination, to create a roadmap to lead Syria back from the brink, and to insist on its full implementation. This is a sound plan with sound principles.”
Annan: Work Group Gave General and Directive Principles to Help Syrian People, But the Results and Decision Are Up to the Syrian People
In a press conference after the meeting, Annan said that the work group presented general and directive principles for the Syrian people regarding political process, establishing a transitional government and making the needed changes, but the results and the decisions are up to the Syrian people.
He said that efforts must focus on pushing all sides to cease violence and commit to the political solution, which sometimes requires a mediator.
Annan vowed to work with all sides and governments that participated in the Geneva meeting and offered help, and that they will use their influence on the government and the opposition to move in the right direction, hoping to end violence as it’s the most pressing issue.
He noted that the Security Council is fully informed of the situation and that its member countries voiced support for his efforts, stressing the need for unity among these member countries to take cooperation to a higher level.
Annan said the Security Council members are working together and individually to urge all sides to do what is necessary, which will help achieve more.
Regarding the British Foreign Minister’s suggestion to issue the results of the meeting in a decision under Chapter 7, Annan said that this is up to the Security Council.
He pointed out that the Geneva meeting was a great opportunity to encourage countries to work together, and that this meeting showed unity and cooperation among the members of the international community.
On the future of the international observer mission, Annan said the mission is still in Syria and is waiting to resume its duties when circumstances permit it.
Regarding an upcoming meeting of the work group, Annan said that they agreed to be ready to convene at any moment in case of emergencies and according to circumstances and developments; apart from that, no date or place or an upcoming meeting were set.
On the schedule of the plan, Annan said that such an issue should result from talks with government and the opposition, hoping that it won’t be long and saying that he can’t predict the future.
Regarding the date of Annan’s visit to Damascus, Annan said that he hasn’t set a date but he will certainly go to Damascus, noting that he agreed with President al-Assad that when the time comes, he will go and ask him to appoint an authorized representative to continue the process and help matters go forward, adding that President al-Assad voiced readiness to do so.
Annan: Geneva Meeting Should Meet Syrians’ Interests, Not International Players’ Interests
Earlier, Annan stressed that the results of Geneva meeting should be in the interests of the Syrian people not some international players.
The remarks came during Annan’s speech at the first session of the international work group meeting on Syria in Geneva.
Annan added that the crisis in Syria has aggravated, calling on all sides to exert effort with the aim of reaching a solution for the crisis.
He underscored that the crisis in Syria could result in an international crisis, stressing that the Syrians only are responsible for settling the crisis in their country.
He stressed that the international community can play an effective role in solving the crisis in Syria if the international players managed to shorten the distance among their views.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday said that the document released from Geneva meeting imposes nothing on the Syrian people and has no preconditions on the political process or national dialogue nor does it exclude any side.
In a press conference after the first session of the international work group meeting in Geneva, Lavrov said that Russia rejects any preconditions, and that it managed to reach a unified position with its partners to pressure all sides, not to take any unilateral steps, adding that Russia also worked constructively to avoid any attempts to make ultimatums and made amendments to the preliminary statements which resulted in the final version.
He said that the document produced by the meeting sends a clear message to the Syrian government and the armed groups to work in a synchronized manner to implement the plan of UN Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, cease all armed activities, and support the UN mission.
Lavrov said that the meeting aims at calling major players in Syria to cooperate to guarantee the implementation of the peace plan and calling on foreign sides to influence all sides within Syria to commit to the plan.
He pointed out that the transitional political process will be led by the Syrian people, and that the document complies with the principles leading to such a process and affirms the basic principles of a democratic countries, including respecting human rights and the rights of minorities and sects, in addition to stressing the need for free and democratic elections and forming a body that expresses the people’s opinions.
Lavrov noted that partners in the work group wanted to issue a new resolution from the Security Council, but Russia rejected this as the group gathering in Geneva isn’t authorized to preemptively issue such a resolution as the Council has its procedures, and that this idea is being studied and the decision will be made by the Security Council.
He said that before discussing Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the best possible efforts must be exerted to implement Annan’s plan on the basis of existing resolutions, noting that armed groups and those who support the opposition and sponsor them aren’t upholding their commitments and that they are acting in a way that makes it impossible to guarantee security as they are provoking the Syrian government and forces to respond to them.
“Some armed groups and the sides sponsoring them are using provocation to spread violence, and there are many facts in this regard that can be seen in western and US media sources… this is happening in several towns and villages where there are attacks on administrative establishments, government and private properties, the army forces and the police… there are more facts that turn up successively, showing the presence of sectarian instigation,” Lavrov said.
He pointed out that the armed groups hindered the attempts of the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate civilians and the trapped in various areas, adding that armed groups are receiving weapons illegally from external sides, and that these practices which violate international law are ongoing and motivate armed group to refrain from disarmament.
He hoped that all sides will realize that the document requires them to commit to it and exert positive influence on all sides, specifically armed groups, to implement Annan’s plan.
“We support Anna’s Efforts and have full trust in the UN observer mission and its ability to achieve stability in all these town and villages so that civilians can live in peace,” Lavrov said.
He stressed that the document produced by the Geneva meeting underscores the need for a peaceful solution that takes the interests of all Syrians into consideration, adding that all the participants in the Geneva meeting are against further militarization of the conflict.
“We cannot call upon the government forces to withdraw from cities while armed groups are receiving weapons… US and European media show this, ” he added.
Lavrov affirmed that Moscow is in contact with almost all representatives of the opposition and is trying to integrate them into the political process and commit them to Annan’s plan, but there are other foreign sides that are asking them to refrain from discarding their weapons and stopping combat under the pretense that foreign countries will help them.
He also stressed that the anti-air weapons delivered to Syria cannot be used against the opposition, as they can only be used to defend the country from an aerial attack.
Lavrov noted that there’s a media dimension to the Syrian crisis, as some channels like Euro News, CNN and BBC show images captured by mobiles and claim that they cannot verify them, while several al-Jazeera resigned in protest of the channel’s coverage of events in Syria.
“There was an attack on the Syrian al-Ikhbariya channel… I asked my colleagues in the work group about their opinion on the EU and Arab League decision to cease the broadcast of Syrian satellite channels, and I received no answer, despite that members of the EU always talk about freedom of expression and journalists’ right to reach information,” he said.
Regarding the effects of the so-called “friends of Syria” meeting on the work group’s efforts, Lavrov said that the name itself is very expressive, since if someone wants to be Syria’s friend, they must be sure that all Syrians view them as a friend of Syria, adding “we told our colleagues that if they want to meet as friends of Syria, they mustn’t keep meeting as friends of part of the opposition, since we’re trying to unite our efforts as external players and coordinate with each other… I don’t know how that group can have a positive effects on the efforts exerted and discussed today.”
He said that Russia is ready to participate in meetings to unify the opposition, noting that this requires work with the government as per Annan’s plan.
Lavrov stressed that the document produced by the Geneva meeting doesn’t exclude anyone, since such an exclusion is inconsistent with inclusiveness in the political process and the UN Charter and rules against interference in the affairs of sovereign countries.
On the shooting down of the Turkish military aircraft which violated Syria’s sovereignty, Lavrov said that the incident requires careful investigation, and that Russia voiced deep regret over and called for taking all precautions to avoid repeating it and exploiting any incident to increase tension.
“We supported a joint investigation between Syria and Turkey… we have our own information and objective observations and we’re ready to present them to both countries, but the main responsibility is on the two countries,” he said.
CHINA SPEAKS POSITIVELY
China welcomes the results of the meeting in terms of agreement in principles and headlines in terms of transition in Syria, adding that as long as sides are committed to neutral, patient in-depth talks, then understanding can be achieved. During a press conference at the conclusion of the work group meetings in Geneva on Saturday, Yang said that the transitional plan regarding Syria can only be led by Syrians and with the approval of all important sides in Syria, stressing that outsiders cannot make decisions on behalf of the Syrian people.
Yang stressed that the mentioning of the “transitional governing body” is designed to provide constructive assistance to a political transition process in Syria, encourage all parties in Syria to swiftly launch an inclusive political dialogue so as to seek an appropriate solution to the ongoing crisis.
“I wish to emphasize here that the political transition process in Syria should be led by the Syrian people and truly owned by the people of Syria. As for the specific issues as the composition of the ‘transitional governing body’ and its operation, they should be agreed on the basis of a dialogue among Syrian government and other relevant parties of Syria.”
He said that China will continue to take a constructive part in the activities of the Action Group, maintain communication and coordination with relevant parties of the international community, work on the Syrian government and the opposition in an active and balanced manner, and make unremitting efforts to find a just, peaceful and appropriate solution to the Syrian issue at an early date.
Lady Michelle-Jennifer Santos is the Founder & Publisher of The Santos Republic. She is also political strategist and analyst, investment consultant and advisor, and the Strategy/Peace Negotiator with the UN Security Council Special Envoy to the Arab Nations involved in brokering peace in the Middle East since 2011. She is also the Principal of MJS Global Group whose core competency is strategy, image/media, branding, geopolitics, international trade and development, communications, intelligence and security, aerospace, technology, entertainment, wealth management, mining, energy, infrastructure, commodities (gold, diamonds, oil and gas, sugar, cement, edible oils, rice, et al), and capital markets. also serves as a Senior Consulting Advisor for DeMatteo Monness LLC, a specialized agency brokerage with equity trading operations in New York and Boston and a member firm of the NASD and clears trades through Goldman Sachs Execution; Clearing LLC. With a background in working for international political campaigns, she is also a public speaker and lecturer on politics and motivational topics. Lady MJ has appeared and been featured in international media outlets (radio, television, print and internet) in Europe and USA such as Fox Business News, NRK, CNBC, CBS and AOL News. You can follow her on Facebook and on Twitter (@mj_santos). You can read more about her here.
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