Crisis in Syria should be settled without outside interference

MOSCOW, August 4 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow considers important a factor in the U.N. Security Council statement on Syria under which the situation in the country should be settled without outside interference, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Thursday.

After months of inaction, the U.N. Security Council issued its first formal condemnation of Syria for its use of force against protesters that has resulted in the deaths of as many as 2,000 civilians this year.

The Council’s statement came as Syria stepped up its military campaign in what appeared to be a final move to crush the protest movement in the town of Hama. It calls for “an immediate end to all violence and urges all sides to act with restraint, and to refrain from reprisals, including attacks against state institutions”.

The statement also calls on Syria to cooperate with the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is seeking to investigate abuses in Syria, and to permit “expeditious and unhindered access for international humanitarian aid agencies and workers”.

“The U.N. Security Council’s commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity is a principled moment. Moscow is convinced that the situation in Syria should be settled by Syrians themselves and without any interference from outside on the basis of the all-Syrian dialogue, which is the unique way to overcome the crisis. It is important that such position will be reflected in the U.N. Security Council statement,” the Russian ministry said.

“Russia continues calling for stepping up political, social and economic reforms in Syria, preventing violence, reaching nationwide accord and beginning a political process in the country,” the ministry said.

Commenting on the situation in Syria, State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev said he is against tough sanctions and external pressure on Syria.

“The world community and the U.N. Security Council should confine themselves to political leverage and give a clear signal, including to Damascus, on inadmissibility to settle the situation by military means,” Kosachev said.

In his view, the situation in Syria “is rather different”. “There is no black-and-white situation in Syria when, on one hand, the authoritarian authorities are armed to the teeth and when, on the other hand, the peaceful population is unprotected. According to my information, the number of victims among policemen and law enforcers are in the hundreds. The so-called opposition must be armed rather well and it is capable of using force,” the lawmaker stressed.

He did not rule out a possibility of an armed uprising in order to overthrow the ruling regime.

At the same time, he noted that the Syrian authorities assumed responsibility for the events in the country. “The authorities must launch a dialogue with the society. This will deprive extremists of the people’s support,” he stressed.

Kosachev came against tough economic sanctions and the military interference. “This will not have a positive impact. But this also instigate the conflict,” the Duma lawmaker stressed.

On August 1, the Foreign Ministry reported that Russia voiced concern over the loss of many lives in the Syrian city of Hama.

Commenting on a telephone conversation between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov and Syrian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates for Syria Walid Muallem, the ministry said, “Russia expresses serious concern over information on the loss of many lives in Hama and other settlements of the country.”

The Syrian diplomat “informed Russia about Damascus’ assessment on the development of the situation and further steps towards carrying out reforms”.

During the conversation, the Russian deputy foreign minister and the Syrian minister “stressed the need to stop violence immediately and start a responsible and substantial dialogue for the benefit of all Syrians”.

The diplomats of the two countries “confirmed their commitment to carrying out comprehensive transformations in Syria”, the ministry said.

The ministry also said Russia urged the Syrian government and the opposition to exercise restraint, to give up provocations and repressions.

According to media reports, over 100 people died during the Syrian special operation in the city of Hama, which is situated 210 kilometres to the north of Damascus, and some other settlements on July 31. The ministry said eight policemen had been also killed in clashes with armed extremists in Hama.

“Moscow expresses serious concern in connection with reports about numerous casualties,” ministry sources stressed. “The use of force both against civilians and representatives of government agencies is inadmissible and must be stopped,” it said.

“We urge the government of Syria and the opposition to exercise maximum restraint, stop provocations and repressions, observe law and order and respect international humanitarian law,” the ministry noted.

“It is of particular importance to launch a responsible and substantial comprehensive dialogue as soon as possible to settle domestic policy and social-economic problems in the interests of all Syrian people, restore civil accord, ensure a stable democratic development of the country,” it stressed.


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