Introductory speech of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the meeting with the first Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, Moscow, 22 May 2013
Dear colleagues, friends,
I welcome you in Moscow in this moment that is very important for the fate of Syria. The situation requires immediate stopping of military actions, beginning of a political dialog. The proposition to prepare the international conference on Syria proposed by Russian and the USA is aimed at it.
The purpose of this event – as we have formulated it – is to make Syrians themselves, without outside interference, agree on their vision of the future of their homeland.
We value the constructive reaction of the Syrian government to this proposition. We think that it is very important that your, Mr Mekdad, visit allows us to discuss specific details that inevitably arise due to the implementation of this idea.
I hope that different opposition groups – there are many of them – will also provide a constructive reaction. However, news have not raised any hopes yet. In particular, according to preliminary estimates, opposition members have not made a decision about their participation in negotiations without preconditions at the yesterday’s and today’s meetings in Madrid.
We certainly maintain regular contacts with those of our foreign partners, who have real influence on the inexorable opposition, and hope that such influence will be applied for the benefit of the general Syrian case. However, currently we observe attempts of known forces to act in such as way to disrupt the advancements on the political track we see now at any moment, when they get a slightest flash of hope.
We consider that one of such actions, willingly or unwillingly, was hijacking of your father, Mr Merdad. This is absolutely unacceptable action of armed opposition – irrespective of whether they want or do not want it, whether it was their aim or not – this disrupts efforts for convening the conference.
Nevertheless, Russia, which is sincerely interested in the welfare of the Syrian people, preservation of the Syrian state, will not remain unprovoked. We hope that Syrian government will also maintain a distinct course to a political settlement.
We welcome you.