Saudi, US-backed Syrian opposition undermines peace talks – Russian FM spokeswoman
Some Syrian opposition groups sponsored by the US and Saudi Arabia came to the Geneva peace talks with “absolutely non-negotiable” stances, Maria Zakharova told RT on Wednesday.
“They didn’t support these negotiations and meetings, they put pre-conditions to the negotiations,” she said, adding this is obstructing peace initiatives to end the country’s six year war.
Accusations made by some Western politicians and mass media outlets claiming that Russia is trying to undermine the Geneva talks are groundless, she said.
“The so-called accusations…are not based on any facts,” Zakharova said. “None of our partners, colleagues have presented us with any documents which prove their positions” despite requests for concrete evidence backing their claims, she added.
She explained that it had been Moscow that had pushed for the launch of the peace process in Geneva.
“We are the country and the side which is very supportive of these negotiations. Actually we were the first – two or three years ago …and the only ones – who insisted on pushing forward negotiations between Damascus and the opposition. We gathered and organized conferences of Syrian opposition in Moscow twice,” she told RT, adding that these meeting served as a platform for the launch of the Syrian dialogue in Switzerland.
“With our support and under our pressure official Damascus and several groups of the Syrian opposition were the first to come to Geneva for negotiations,” she said.
‘Refugee crisis started much earlier than Russian airstrikes in Syria’
Groundless claims that Russian airstrikes are killing civilians and destroying civil infrastructure in Syria are part of a “huge information campaign against Russia,” Zakharova added.
Statements made by US Secretary of State John Kerry claiming that Russian airstrikes were killing civilians in Syria are irresponsible, she said, adding that Washington has continually refused to coordinate with Moscow on Syria.
#Zakharova: The fact that agenda-driven media spread misleading information on civilian casualties in Syria without evidence is perplexing— MFA Russia (@mfa_russia) February 10, 2016
“Our ministry of defense on daily basis is informing the audience and media about our targets in Syria. We are very open and we are very transparent. I cannot remember the time we were that transparent,” she noted. Moscow is also “very open and clear with our partners including US, Europe, Brussels and Middle East countries,” she said.
Zakharova told RT that the new wave of refugees, which some claim has resulted from Russia’s air campaign in Syria, has nothing to do with Moscow’s anti-terrorist operation.
“I want to remind [you] that that problem appeared two years ago when there was no word about Russia’s military campaign in Syria,” she said in the interview. The migrants are trying to flee Islamic State militants (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) and chaotic situations in the region, she added.
“Syrians are only part of the refugees who are leaving the region towards Europe. There is a huge number of people from Libya, Yemen” and other countries which have been hotbeds of terrorist activity.
‘NATO alone cannot save everyone from terrorism’
Only those who are against rooting out terrorism in Syria are calling for the suspension of Russia’s airstrikes, the spokeswoman told reporters at a briefing in Moscow.
“Those who really want to root out terrorism in Syria in order to build a democratic state, to conduct free elections, develop democratic principles – for this category of citizens Russia’s Air Force operation is a necessity,” she said. “Therefore, one needs to decide on their intentions: who wants to support who – the opposition that actually sees the possibility and prospects for a political resolution in the country in order to live together, or the opposition that professes the principles and objectives of the terrorists.”
Speaking at the press briefing, she said that NATO has been resorting to allegations against Russia because it is incapable of providing sufficient protection against terrorism.
“All this strengthening of NATO troops …British, American …have they ever protected anyone from terrorism? Take the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, for example. Did NATO save everyone from terrorists? No, of course, because they are incapable of doing so. They are only capable of scaring people with the ‘Russian threat,’ increasing defense budgets, and deploying more and more troops under this pretext,” she stated.
Answering a question on whether Russia would suspend its airstrikes to facilitate the intra-Syrian talks, Zakharova said that the Russian operation creates a “perfect atmosphere to fight against terrorism.”
“We aren’t engaged in supporting the regime in Syria. We suppose that the domestic situation in Syria is the business of the Syrians themselves,” Zakharova said, talking to reporters. “We have never idealized the existing political system in Syria, we have regularly criticized what official Damascus is doing, including in the human rights area and in observing democratic principles, as well as in many other directions,” she said.