Russia blocks mention of Assad's fate in G8 Syria declaration

Russia blocks mention of Assad's fate in G8 Syria declaration
Moscow has insisted that no demands for the resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad be made in the G8 summit’s communiqué on the issue. The eight world powers have called for a political solution to the ongoing Syrian crisis.

We remain committed to achieving a political solution to the crisis based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria,” the final G8 summit communiqué reads. “We strongly endorse the decision to hold as soon as possible the Geneva conference on Syria,” reads the document, which does not outline Assad’s role in a post-crisis Syria.

Wrapping up their gathering in Northern Ireland, the G8 leaders also urged the Syrian government and the opposition to commit to destroying all organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda. 

The world powers confirmed that they are contributing almost $1.5 billion to meet humanitarian needs in Syria and in neighboring states.

We also condemn in the strongest possible terms all human rights violations and abuses in Syria, committed by anyone, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians. We call on all sides to respect international humanitarian and human rights laws, noting the particular responsibility of the Syrian authorities in this regard,” the communiqué reads.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a news conference after the summit, underlined that decisions on arms supplies to the Syrian opposition based on unconfirmed reports that the Assad regime used chemical weapon further destabilize the situation.

We do not have any facts of the use of such weapons by the Syrian government. I assure you, that by no means all the G8 members believe that they were used,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told a media conference on Tuesday.

Arms supplies were not mentioned in the G8 final document. But the Group of Eight condemned the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, calling on all parties involved in the conflict to allow UN inspectors to enter the country to investigate the claims.

We are determined that those who may be found responsible for the use of chemical weapons will be held accountable,” the leaders stated.

The G8 also agreed that the results of this investigation would be turned over to the UN Security Council.

Putin denounced speculation that he was isolated at the G8 summit – ‘one against all’ on the Syrian issue: “It’s absolutely wrong,” he stressed. “Believe me, it was a joint discussion between people who want to find common approaches to resolving the Syrian problem.”

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the G8 summit in Northern Ireland “G7 plus one” – a criticism of Moscow for “supporting” the Syrian regime.

Just a day earlier, Harper noted that the G8 communiqué represents a real shift by Putin. Harper admitted that before the meeting, he feared Putin's support for Syria would make an agreement difficult.

We have a very different outcome and much better outcome than I thought we were going to have,” Harper told reporters following the summit.

Russia and the US proposed holding an international peace conference on Syria, following a meeting in Moscow last month between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The Geneva 2 talks would be a follow-up to last year’s international meeting in Switzerland that drafted a peace roadmap for Syria, known as the Geneva Communiqué. 

Initially, the conference was planned for the end of May, and was then postponed till mid-June; no definite date for the meeting has been scheduled yet.

The peace talks were postponed due to the difficulty of bringing all parties involved to the table. While the Syrian government approved of such a meeting, the opposition remains split on the matter.

The issue was raised again as Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama met on the sidelines of the G8 summit. The leaders agreed to push the sides of the two-year-long Syrian conflict to the negotiating table in Geneva.

On some points, we still have a different stance, but we are united by an aspiration to prevent violence, to put an end to the growing number of victims, to solve the problem by peaceful means, including through negotiations at the international conference at Geneva,” Putin said.