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Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, stressed Russia’s rejection of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria as it constitutes a violation of the Syrian sovereignty and the UN Charter.

“I’ve heard what representatives of the U.S. military leaderships mentioned of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, and this is not the first time they propose such an issue which, if it happens, would be a violation of sovereignty and of the UN Charter,” said Lavrov in an interview with Sky News Arabia published on Saturday.

He added that if the aim behind this issue was taking care of the displaced, “then we also want to facilitate their conditions and it’s necessary to agree on this issue according to various mechanisms.”

The Russian Foreign Minister referred in this regard to the recent visit of the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, to Damascus and a number of Syrian areas, highlighting the Syrian government’s agreement on tackling the problems of the displaced.

“However, if they tried to build ‘safe zones’ and no-fly zones for military purpose, then this is unacceptable,” Lavrov stressed.

Commenting on the possibility of working outside the Security Council regarding the Syrian issue, Lavrov said the US has actually announced its intention to do so, describing the U.S. stance as “incomprehensible” especially that it came up a few days after the Geneva meeting, which resulted in forming an action committee that came out with a statement that detailed Annan’s six-point plan.

Lavrov added that the statement was approved at Geneva meeting but was later manipulated by international partners at the Security Council and intentionally misinterpreted to look as if it implied an authorization to overthrow the regime in Syria and even exclude it from negotiations.

He stressed that the statement was approved in simple and clear English and did not include any of that but rather focused on the necessity of stopping violence by all parties and that the Syrian government and opposition present the names of negotiators who are supposed to meet to unanimously reach the formation of a transitional body that includes representatives from both sides based on the agreement of the Syrians themselves.

Lavrov dismissed the statements of Washington and other capitals on the death of Geneva meeting as “irresponsible”, describing the Geneva meeting as the most important meeting reached on Syria with the participation of the Western countries, the US, the Europeans, Russia, China, the Arab countries and Turkey.

“Now to say that the statement is dead means that there are some parties who are looking for an excuse to announce the absence of prospects for a settlement through peaceful means and resort to a military action, the thing which makes us very concerned as it is a way towards a big catastrophe in the region,” he added.

On the work group on Syria at the UN Security Council on the level of permanent representatives that Russia invited to, Lavrov said ”We actually wanted to hold a meeting in New York for the permanent representatives of all countries who attended Geneva meeting, in addition to Saudi Arabia and Iran, to say that the negotiations in Geneva were fair and constructive… the US representative pretended that she did not understand what was the meeting all about…If they are trying to dodge the issue, it means that they were either not sincere in Geneva or they changed their minds, and they have to say that straightaway.”

Lavrov stressed Russia’s commitment to a firm line in solving crises, which is the importance of reaching collective decisions implemented unanimously, as was the case with Annan’s plan when Russia committed to urging all sides to implement it.

”We don’t want to come up with initiatives that cause a stir like establishing a no-fly zone or safe areas…We want to recognize the essence of the conflict,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov said that one of the salient points in Geneva statement underlined the importance of ending violence by all sides as the West is shirking the agreement and violating the commitments, demanding that the Syrian government ends military acts unilaterally.

Lavrov said that were the Syrian government to pull the military vehicles out of the cities, the opposition won’t lay down arms, but would try take over the cities, adding ”It is not logical from a military or political perspectives, and we they speak about the importance of disarming one side, it is obviously not about calming the situation or saving civilian lives.”

Lavrov stressed the importance of coming to the negotiating table to solve the crisis in Syria and that the Syrians agree about their future, pointing out to the role of foreign countries and their calls for arming the opposition and inciting it to reject dialogue with the regime, which add fuel to the fire.”

Lavrov underlined the importance that the Syrian people determine their own future and that the role of foreign players be restricted to helping the Syrian people come to the negotiating table.”

Speaking about the mission of the new UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Lavrov said “There is a plan to divide the mission into military and political groups of observers, and a third group that helps carry out humanitarian projects and delivering aid,” adding that he believes the mission will focus on the political measures and contacts that help jump-start a political dialogue.”

Lavrov also underlined the importance of admitting that ceasefire must be observed by the opposition, not only the government, as victims are falling by the opposition’s gunfire.

MOSCOW (SANA) August 18, 2012


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