Lavrov: All ethnicities should participate in dialogue

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a press conference with UN Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, and US Secretary of State John Kerry (both not pictured) after their tripartite meeting to discuss the issue of Syrian chemical weapons at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 13 September 2013. EPA/MARTIAL TREZZINI

In today’s instalment of his regularly held press briefings Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to journalists on the Syrian peace process and the Astana meetings between Russia, Turkey and Iran. 

Lavrov said, “As the guarantors of the ceasefire agreement, Russia, Turkey and Iran believe it to be appropriate for representatives of the UN and the new administration of the USA to be present at the meetings in Astana. We expect the new administration of the USA to participate in the meetings at a specialist level, and this will be our first contact. Let’s not forget that Russia and the USA have formed a peace process coalition, this coalition continues to work. I believe this mechanism can be reinvigorated. I would like to specifically direct your attention to the statements of the new administration in which they declare an intention to fight terrorism in a serious manner”.

In a question on whether Russia will support a confederation project which includes autonomy for Kurds, Lavrov said, “This question is not for me, it is for the Syrian people. According to the UN’s resolution, only the Syrian people can determine their own destiny. An important condition for this is for all faiths and ethnicities to participate in this dialogue.”

The Russian FM went criticise the UN and said, “One of the biggest problems to date has been the UN’s insistence on only inviting the political opposition to the Syrian peace process meetings, of which a majority are actually politicians who live outside of Syria. The main actors impacting on the developments in Syria were left out. By inviting the sides fighting in Syria to the meetings, Russia and Turkey took a significant step. The aim of the meetings in Astana is to solidify the ceasefire and to include the fighting sides in the political process. These sides are not just the sides who signed the ceasefire agreement in December, the others can join too. There is a list for militants that are ready to participate. Now this is what I can call a sturdy process that has enabled the participation of as many participants as possible”.