Comment by the Information and Press Department on the developments at the inter-Syrian talks in Geneva
The Riyadh group of the Syrian opposition announced its decision to suspend its participation in inter-Syrian dialogue under the UN aegis in Geneva. It said it could revise this decision if the Syrian Government complies with its many requirements. These ultimatum demands are based on the groundless accusations of Damascus of ceasefire violations, preventing the humanitarian access to the needy population and the lack of readiness for the unilateral release of imprisoned militants. Head of the Supreme Commission for Negotiations (SCN) Riad Hijab said that as long as the Syrian Government is bombing civilians, the continuation of the talks in unacceptable and thus he and his team are going to leave Geneva.
Meanwhile, other opposition groups taking part in the inter-Syrian talks in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254, for instance the Moscow-Cairo bloc and the Hmeimim Group, do not share this destructive position and remain in Geneva. Their representatives Qadri Jamil, Jihad Makdissi and Ilian Masaad
denounced in public the SCN decision that was likely to be made not without the influence of some outside forces. The Syrian Government delegation is also ready to continue the Geneva talks.
Moscow is consistently committed to the decisions of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and the UN Security Council, according to which the entire package of issues that are worrying the Syrian parties can and should be discussed at inclusive inter-Syrian talks through proxy and, better yet, at direct talks. The Geneva venue should serve as a shop for coordinating the outlines of Syria’s future secular statehood and defining ways to achieve it rather than an Oriental bazaar with elements of crude blackmail of the international community. Apparently, the Riyadh Group is using its ultimatums to cover up the absence of specific realistic proposals on the modalities of the political settlement of the Syrian crisis.
In this context, we support the decision of UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura not to interrupt the inter-Syrian dialogue in Geneva and continue scheduled consultations with different groups of the moderate Syrian opposition and the Government delegation.
We believe that the large-scale, albeit not full representation of the opposition due to the absence of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party allows the participants to move forward the negotiating process and achieve practical results, naturally leaving the doors open to the Riyadh Group as well.
We would like to emphasise again the irresponsibility of the approaches that cast doubts on the progress towards the end of bloodshed in Syria, which was achieved by no small collective efforts of the ISSG and its co-chairs – Russia and the United States. It transpires that some members of the opposition and their foreign partners are still staking exclusively on the implementation of their own plans and obviously overrated ambitions, acting under the all-or-nothing principle.
The Riyadh Group is again demonstrating the low level of its own negotiability. This only confirms that its claims to the monopoly representation of the entire Syrian opposition are groundless and will not contribute to the task of settling the Syrian crisis politically as soon as possible.
In this context, we would like to emphasise again the importance of strictly following the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the ISSG decisions on the need to ensure the maximum possible representation of opposition groups in the inter-Syrian dialogue and political process. We stress the importance of conducting serious work with these groups on equal footing with the Riyadh opposition group.