Moscow hopes that the Geneva talks on settling the Syrian crisis will not be disrupted, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.
According to him, the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 is the main topic of the Geneva talks. “I don’t think that the agenda of the Geneva talks needs further consideration. The agenda has been outlined by the decisions of the UN Security Council, first and foremost, by the Resolution 2254,” he added.
“The political agenda is based on the need to form a unified view of the transition period in Syria and agree on some kind of a national unity government. According to the UN Security Council Resolution, any decisions can only be made if Damascus and all the opposition groups come to terms,” the Russian top diplomat noted. “After that, the political process envisages that joint efforts should be made to draw up a new Syrian constitution and then, early general elections should be conducted.”
Lavrov noted that the same resolution “demands an uncompromised fight against terrorism as well as the separation of the moderate opposition from terrorists.” “All other steps will be hard to take if we do not understand who is a legitimate member of the political process and who is not,” the Russian foreign minister added. “We can’t let extremists blacklisted by the UN Security Council enter the political process. Besides, it will be hard to reach agreements on ensuring the representation of every ethnic, religious and political group in state agencies if we are not sure that Syrians are ready to agree on a constitution,” Lavrov said.
“It is all connected, if the war on terror is not included, the agenda of the Geneva talks will not be in line with the Resolution 2254. However, as far as I know, participants to the Geneva talks have come to realize they need to find approaches that would correspond with the Resolution 2254, including the need to fight terrorism,” Lavrov added. “I hope that the Geneva talks will not be disrupted, as well as the Astana talks, and will continue to play an important role in facilitating the process of settling the Syrian crisis,” the Russian top diplomat concluded.
Some Arab states recognize that the decision to suspend Syria’s membership of the League of Arab States was a mistake, he went on.
“We are strongly in favor of such reconciliation (between Damascus and its neighbors in the region – TASS). In the final count it is their destiny to live together side by side. They have a common enemy – terrorism and extremism,” Lavrov said.
Regrettably, at the very beginning of the Syrian crisis those Arab countries which wished Damascus’s expulsion from the LAS gained the upper hand. Today Damascus is not represented in that pan-Arab organization, Lavrov said, adding that in a situation like that the opportunities for a dialog, including an informal, pragmatic dialog were considerably restricted. “Some Arab partners recognize, not very loudly for the time being, but in informal contacts, that it was a mistake,” he said.
“Under any circumstances we wish this dialog to develop and all Syrian parties without exception and foreign actors to be guided by the settlement concept contained in Resolution 2254, which implies comprehensive approach to the struggle with terrorism and political reforms. Political reforms should rely exclusively on mutual consent by the government and the entire opposition spectrum,” Lavrov said.
Syria’s membership of the League of Arab States was suspended in November 2011.