Russia, UN Envoy Call for Peaceful Solution in Syria
by VOA News December 27, 2012
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has echoed a call from an international peace envoy to resolve Syria's civil war through a government-backed national dialogue and political process.
The Russian foreign ministry quoted Lavrov as telling a visiting Syrian diplomat there is 'no alternative' to a peaceful solution of the conflict. It said he made the comment Thursday, in talks with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad.
In separate remarks to Russian news agency Interfax, Lavrov warned of 'bloody chaos' if the Syrian civil war escalates. He said the chances of establishing a transitional government are decreasing, but still exist. Russia is a longtime ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Earlier in the day, international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said any Syrian transitional government must represent what he called 'real change' and hold full powers to lead the country to new elections.
Lavrov said the solution should involve a broad inter-Syrian dialogue and a political process based on an action plan made in Geneva that won international approval in June. The Russian foreign ministry said Makdad expressed appreciation for the Russian position.
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A spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition said the main exiled opposition group will accept any solution that excludes Mr. Assad and his aides.
Speaking at a news conference in Istanbul, Walid al-Bunni said the Syrian leadership has blood on its hands and must leave the country. Western powers and their Arab allies have backed opposition demands for Mr. Assad's ouster.
The Geneva plan called for a transitional government to be established but did not explicitly bar Assad from being a part of that process.
The envoy Brahimi was speaking in Damascus after several days of talks with Syrian officials and domestic-based opposition groups. Brahimi did not say whether Assad should be a part of the 'real change' that he seeks.
He also said a Syrian transition period must not lead to a collapse of the state or state institutions. The Algerian diplomat is due to visit Moscow on Saturday to seek Russian support for his ideas.
Brahimi also denied reports that Russia and the United States had agreed to a Syria peace plan.
'Some said in Syria and outside Syria that I have come here to market a Russian-American project. I wish there were a Russian-American project. There is no Russian American project and hence I didn't come here to market it,' he insisted.
Russian commentator Fyodor Lukyanov told VOA that Russia wants to avoid a scenario in which Syria's majority Sunni rebels quickly take power after deposing Assad's minority Alawite leadership.
'Not only Alawites, but basically all minorities are very much afraid of Sunni victory, because they are almost sure that a new majority will take revenge on everybody who was in power before, or associated with power,' he explained.
Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, said Moscow believes the victory of one side over the other will not bring stability to Syria.
'Because then the other side will just fight for their lives, for survival,' he noted. ' Now, 300,000 Alawite [troops)]are called the Syrian army. In case of a change, they would become a paramilitary militia. That is the difference. The essence of their fight will be the same.'
Lukyanov said Russia also wants to prevent Western powers from helping to oust another Moscow-friendly Arab leader after they gave military support to rebels who deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi last year.
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