Sergei Lavrov: "Russia Is Syria’s Friend"

SERGEI LAVROV: “RUSSIA IS SYRIA’S FRIEND”

Voice of Russia
April 2 2012

Denisova Olga Apr 2, 2012 22:05 Moscow Time

Meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandyan, Russia’s
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for the disengagement of forces
and for the removal of barricades in Syria. Besides, he said that it is
necessary to ensure humanitarian aid supplies. The visit of the Russian
minister to Yerevan is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of
the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Armenia.

The regional agenda, including first of all the situation in Syria has
featured prominently at the meeting between the two ministers. The day
before Lavrov and Nalbandyan met in the Armenian capital Yerevan, the
Friends of Syria Group held a conference in neighbouring Turkey. In
Istanbul, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and the Head of the
League of Arab States (LAS) Nabil al Arabi called for putting pressure
on the United Nations in order to force it to take decisive measures.

The Friends of Syria Group that unites Western and Arab countries
has started the drafting of sanctions against the current Syrian
leadership. The members of this Group believe that their initiative
will be favoured by UN Security Council (UNSC) that will allow the
application of sanctions. However, the method of ultimatums seldom
proves effective, as was proved more than once, the Russian minister
said.

“Both ultimatums and artificial deadlines are very seldom of help. Of
course, we would like the bloodshed in Syria to be halted as soon as
possible. However, these demands are applicable to all warring sides
in Syria. We agree that the Syrian government should take the first
step as is envisaged by Annan’s plan. And still, unless all those
who are fighting against the government forces take similar actions,
I don’t think that any result will be achieved. Therefore, demands
should be made to all those on both sides of the barricades. Meaning
the disengagement of forces, the removal of barricades, measures to
ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid, and the beginning of the
political process.”

Although Russia was invited to take part in the conference in Istanbul,
its representatives did not arrive in Istanbul. They were not present
at the first conference in Tunisia either. Moscow’s stand is very
simple – all sides that are involved in the conflict should take part
in the discussion, while the members of the Friends of Syria Group
prefer to conduct a dialogue only with the opposition.

The second conference of Syria’s “friends” has recognized
the opposition Syrian National Council as the only legitimate
representative of the Syrian people. Russia has the possibility of
working with official Damascus. Both the Western and Arab players
should send a correct message to the opposition, Lavrov says.

“We have established regular contacts with the Syrian National
Council as well as with other national coordination committees which
are operating as opposition forces in Syria. We are trying to be
friends of all the Syrians, and not just some part of the Syrian
people. I believe that all those who are not indifferent to the
fate of Syria as well as to the fate of its neighbours, and also
all those who are concerned over the fate of that difficult region,
will demonstrate maximum responsibility, especially while they are
planning steps that would not contribute to the fulfillment of the
decision of the UN Security Council. We are pressing for the complete
implementation of Kofi Annan’s 6-point plan. We are in contact with
the Syrian government every day, proceeding from the fact that the
Western countries and their partners will send similar signals to
the armed groups that kill people there.”

The UN Security Council that gave the mandate to the joint special
envoy for Syria, not the Friends of Syria Group, should supervise
Kofi Annan’s mission there, Lavrov said in conclusion.

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