Remarks by moderator of the Inter-Syrian Moscow meeting Vitaly Naumkin at a news conference, Moscow, January 29, 2015
Ladies and gentlemen,
As you know, the first inter-Syrian consultative meeting in Moscow, which took place from January 26 to 29, has just ended. For the first time, representatives of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, various opposition groups and civil society, who were invited to come to Moscow by the Foreign Ministry, sat at the same table.
It would be naïve to think that after almost four years of fierce confrontation the parties would come to terms and agree on ways of overcoming such a deep crisis. At this stage, the participants did not set the goal of producing a joint political document. Still, as moderator of the inter-Syrian meeting, I can offer you an overview that sums up what has been said by the participants and what could be described as the “Moscow principles” that they all share. All the participants in the meeting were briefed on this text and had no objections to it being presented by me.
The Moscow principles
The discussions that took place during the meeting between representatives of the Syrian government, the Syrian opposition and civil society, who were invited to come to Moscow by the Foreign Ministry, lead to the following conclusions.
Syrian hostilities, now in their fourth year, have led to the death and suffering of millions of people in the country. Syria has become a target of large-scale interference by outside forces in various forms, the most dangerous of those being the activity of terrorists and extremists from all over the world. The threat of disintegration is looming over the country, as extremists are attempting to impose inhuman practices that are alien to the noble and age-old traditions of cohabitation between various groups of the Syrian people.
The social and economic infrastructure, created by generations of Syrians, is being destroyed. The precious cultural-historical and civilisational legacy is being plundered and demolished. The younger generation of Syrians is being raised and brought up in an environment that cannot be described as normal. Many parts of the country have ended up in a state close to humanitarian catastrophe.
This situation is unacceptable. All the robust forces of Syrian society, and Syrian patriots, should take decisive steps to turn the situation around, above all, to put an end to the fratricidal bloodshed.
It is therefore necessary to develop a national conciliation platform that would make it possible to deal with the pressing issues on the national agenda through the joint efforts of all Syrians, via an inclusive inter-Syrian dialogue without any preconditions.
This platform could be based on the following principles.
1. Preservation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic, its unity, independence and territorial integrity.
2. Countering international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and the consolidation of efforts in the fight against terrorists and extremists on Syrian soil.
3. Resolution of the crisis in Syria by peaceful political methods on the basis of accord, based on the principles of the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012.
4. Determination of Syria’s future on the basis of the free and democratic expression of the will of the Syrian people.
5. Unacceptability of outside interference in Syrian affairs.
6. Ensuring the continuity of state institutions, including the army, the armed forces, and reforming them solely by legitimate means.
7. Ensuring civic peace through full-fledged participation by all strata of the Syrian people in the country’s political and socio-economic life, ensuring the equality of all ethnic and religious groups of the population on a legislative and practical level.
8. Rule of law and equality of all citizens before the law.
9. Unacceptability of any foreign military presence on Syrian territory without the consent of the Syrian government.
10. The need to end the occupation of the Golan Heights.
11. Lifting sanctions on the Syrian people.
I should note that the representatives of the Syrian opposition and civil society have urged the representatives of the Syrian government, who were present at the meeting, to develop without delay an array of confidence-building measures to create a favourable atmosphere for holding an inclusive and meaningful national dialogue. As was noted during the meeting, the humanitarian dossier is of paramount importance here.
The participants in the meeting expressed their gratitude to the government of the friendly Russian Federation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies for organising the Moscow meeting.
They expressed their desire for the continuation of consultations at this venue and for taking this process further, including the possibility of expanding the scope of its participants. In particular, they expressed the wish for a second meeting to be held in Moscow in the near future. It seems to me that refusal to participate only weakens the positions of those who refuse.
A small working group of moderators (with the participation of former ambassadors Alexander Aksenyonok and Veniamin Popov) was established to maintain contacts between the participants in the Moscow process.
It should be noted that the organisers of the consultative meeting have no intention of monopolising the efforts to facilitate the Syrian settlement. As Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “we will welcome the efforts of any states or organisations to provide optimal conditions for a nationwide inclusive dialogue, within the framework of which the Syrians themselves will work to reach an agreement.” Significantly, Sergey Lavrov noted the positive aspects of the opposition meeting that took place in Cairo. However, unlike the Moscow meeting, there were no representatives of the Syrian government there. Clearly, the Moscow meeting is not in any way being set against the efforts under the aegis of the UN. Quite the contrary, I would venture to guess that Staffan de Mistura’s involvement in the “Moscow process” will be welcome.
I believe that one important outcome of the meeting is that its participants have unanimously adopted the text of an appeal to the international community. I will now read the text of this appeal, which has just been translated from Arabic to Russian.
Appeal to the International Community
Participants in the Moscow meeting on the inter-Syrian dialogue, who met on January 26-29, 2015, appeal to the international community to help alleviate the growing humanitarian suffering of the Syrian people.
We urge the international community to do the following.
1. Increase and accelerate humanitarian relief aid to all parts of Syria without exception, based on the relevant UN resolution.
2. The international community is urged to lift or ease unilateral economic sanctions, which are hurting all segments of the Syrian population and all parts of Syria, especially as a result of shortages of vital commodities for the people, for their normal life and work.
3. Condemning Israel’s aggressive actions against Syria and Lebanon, the participants in the Moscow meeting call upon the international community to influence Israel to end the aggression and observe the UN Charter and the decisions of the international community.
4. Condemn foreign intervention in Syria and urge the UN Security Council to enforce its resolutions, primarily Resolutions 2170 and 2178 to block and eradicate the sources of terrorism.
Moscow, January 29, 2015