Jun. 19, 2013 (TSR) – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov stressed the need for Russia’s western partners to force the Syrian opposition to become involved in the efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria, particularly since the Syrian government officially announced its participation in the upcoming international conference on Syria.
In an interview published by ITAR-TASS news agency on Wednesday, Gatilov said that the ball is now in the court of Russia’s partners, and that they are expected to work actively to convince the opposition to enter negotiations.
He added that Moscow is working to convince the Syrian authorities to adopt a serious position regarding participation in the international conference, but Russia doesn’t intend to pressure the Syrian government to enter any negotiations if their results are predetermined.
Gatilov noted that the Syrian opposition has yet to announce who will represent it in the international conference, on the contrary; they say they will not go to the conference until they receive weapons and achieve military superiority, adding that there’s no information about what base they will adopt in negotiations.
Lavrov: Syria opp. can’t set conditions for talks
In remarks published on Russian Foreign Ministry website on Tuesday, Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s stance that the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot be a precondition for the peace talks.
Russia and the United States agreed on May 7 in Moscow to convene an international conference on Syria, which will serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012.
Later in May, Syria opposition bloc, known as the National Coalition, said it would not attend the Geneva 2 meeting unless a deadline is set to force President Assad to step down as a settlement to the Syrian issue.
They even said later that they won’t participate unless they receive more arms from their supporters to first compensate their losses in the war and then go for talks.
The Russian minister further said, “We categorically oppose … affirmations that the conference should become a kind of public act of capitulation by the government delegation, with the subsequent handover of power in Syria to the opposition.”
He added that the Syrian government has agreed to attend the conference and formed a negotiating team, which will be headed by Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem.
“With the opposition it is more difficult,” he said, adding that the opposition’s calls for the removal of President Assad are not in line with efforts to reach a solution to the Syrian crisis.
UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said on June 7 that the event might be held in July. The talks had originally been planned to be held in June.
Foreign-sponsored insurgency in Syria has taken its toll on the lives of many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, since the turmoil erupted in March 2011.
Putin: Syria armed militants may end up in Europe
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that arming the Syrian opposition will only lead to escalating the crisis in Syria.
“It is impossible to stop the bloodshed in Syria except by the political means, any decisions to arm the Syrian opposition, depending on uncertain accusations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, will lead to nothing but escalating the crisis,” Russia Today quoted Putin as saying at a press conference following the final meeting of G8 in North Ireland.
“There are no evidence on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.. We are consensus on one thing; namely, we all denounce the use of weapons of mass destruction by any side,” the Russian President added.
He called for a serious discussion of the outcomes of investigation into reports about the use of chemical weapons in Syria in the framework of the UN Security council.
President Putin urged countries of the West not to speed up the supplying of weapons to the Syrian opposition due to the absence of a monitoring mechanism on how to use them in future, saying “I call on our partners to think once again before doing this step.”
He affirmed that Russia exports weapon to the legitimate government in Syria according to legal contracts.
Russia warns US, EU on arming Syria militants
Russia has warned the United States and the European Union against their decision to supply arms to extremists in Syria, calling on them to reconsider the move.
On Tuesday, Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland that the West must consider the consequences of supplying weapons to anti-Syria militants, saying the move would be a major blow to the chances for peace.
Ushakov: Moscow Exports Weapons to Syria on a legal basis
For his part, Yuri Ushakov, Assistant to the Russian President announced that Moscow exports weapons to Syria on a legal basis as Syrian-Russian contracts which were previously signed are being implemented now.
“President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly underscored that the currently deals have been made with the Syrian government on a legal basis,” Ushakov told reporters today.
On the preparations for the international conference on Syria, Ushakov said that the final statement of the G8 summit which was held in north Ireland stressed the need for convening the conference as soon as possible.
Russia Rejects attempts to impose decisions on Syria
Meanwhile, Russia reiterated rejection of any foreign attempt to impose any decision on the Syrian people.
“Russia won’t accept any conference through which our partners or the participant sides impose decisions on the Syrian people from outside, particularly determining specifications of the political transitional process,” Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign minister of Russia said.
In a relevant context, Ryabkov criticized some international sides’ bids to prevent Iran from taking part in the international conference on Syria, saying Tehran has a great influence in Syria and the region alike.
French National Front Party: Russia’s stance on crisis in Syria brave, prevented worst scenarios
French National Front Party Marine Le Pen said that the approach of the Russian leadership and its independent foreign policy which adopted a brave stance on the crisis in Syria prevented the worst scenarios from taking place.
Russia Today website quoted Le Pen as saying that France must remain France far from all changes witnessed in the world, considering that France and many other European countries cannot preach about democracy
US President Barack Obama ordered his administration on June 14 to provide the militants with weapons, a day after the US claimed that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the militants and thus crossed Washington’s “red line”.
Damascus has rejected the allegation as “lies.”
Also on May 27, EU foreign ministers agreed, after lengthy talks among divided ministers in Brussels, to lift the arms embargo on the militants in Syria. France and Britain were the proponents of the move.
The Russian diplomat further dismissed “groundless” Western claims that the Syrian forces have used chemical weapons in their fight against Takfiri extremists, saying that a new investigation is needed to determine the validity of such claims.
“We cannot agree to biased interpretations and groundless claims that the government of Syria has used chemical weapons,” Ryabkov said.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of government forces, have been killed so far.