Lavrov: Geneva's Document Imposes Nothing on the Syrians, Contains no Preconditions for Political Process or National Dialogue

Jun 30, 2012

GENEVA, (SANA) – 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.

M. Nassr/ H. Sabbagh

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