15 March, 2012 — Voice of Russia
The Syrian authorities have welcomed crisis settlement proposals from the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan.
According to a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, Syria hails the proposals and has replied positively to those which meet the country’s needs. However, the response provided by Syria has triggered new questions. Kofi Annan is now expected to address the UN Security Council in connection with it on March 16th .
The Syrian authorities call for a nationwide dialogue staking on President Bashar al-Assad as a guarantor of such a dialogue. They look to ballot boxes to secure a political solution to the crisis. They believe that all parties to the conflict should understand the importance of such steps and sit down at the negotiating table.
In the opinion of Kofi Annan, the position of the Syrian authorities is not immediately clear from this message. In Damascus, Mr.Annan discussed the importance of an immediate end to violence and called for a political dialogue. President Assad did not respond right away. But he didn’t deny Mr.Annan’s proposals.
Later on, Kofi Annan met with Chairman of the Syrian National Transitional Council Burgan Galyun, who assured him on behalf of the Syrian opposition that they were ready to establish partnership, to cease fire and open humanitarian corridors.
These proposals, however, have failed to clear the air as regards the country’s future. The details of the talks haven’t been disclosed. Kofi Annan will comment on the situation in Syria at a UN Security Council meeting on March 16th .
Mr.Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fausi has said that the crisis in Syria requires immediate action.
Nevertheless, President Assad was in no hurry to react to Russia’s proposals. The referendum on Syria’s new constitution and the decision to hold parliamentary elections would deserve a hearty welcome if they hadn’t been announced so late. Bashar al-Assad consented to start a dialogue with the opposition on February 7th, after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Reports of clashes between government troops and opposition forces have kept coming in ever since.
While foreign players stake a lot on Kofi Annan’s mission, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has made it clear that a Syrian settlement requires more than that.
“Russia will explore other options as well. It will keep on working with representatives of both the government and various opposition groups, with representatives of the Arab League and with top regional and international players. Moscow will seek to muster support for Kofi Annan’s mission on the part of all parties to the conflict. Any issue of international concern calls for joint action. And Syria is no exception.”
As he met with President Assad, Kofi Annan, who was born in Ghana, quoted an old African proverb saying that it you can’t change the wind, you can turn the sail. After one year of unrest accompanied by armed confrontation and bloodshed, the people of Syria have no other option but rely on this African wisdom.