Ambassador Yakovenko’s comment on the situation in Syria

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Ambassador Yakovenko’s comment on the situation in Syria
We believe that the current round of Geneva talks is off to a better start due to the participation of all the main opposition platforms – the Riyadh, Moscow, and Cairo groups.

The constitutional reform and the fight against terrorism are priorities, but not forgetting about two other issues (running the country prior to the adoption of a new constitution and holding elections). Eventually, the constitution should reflect the concerns of all ethnic, religious, and political groups of Syria without exception. This is the only way to ensure the stable functioning of the Syrian state and prevent the spread of [the] terrorist threat. Meanwhile, the current constitution provides for a broad range of opportunities to expand the participation of opposition representatives in running the state. We actively support the efforts of UNSG Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to encourage the Syrian parties to engage in a productive conversation on constitutional reforms.

The success of agreements on de-escalation zones, particularly one in southwest Syria signed by Russia, the US, and Jordan on July 7, will make the fight against terrorism more efficient. This opportunity is real now, because the very concept of de-escalation zones provides for separation of the armed opposition from ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and other UN-proscribed terrorist groups. They also help normalize relations between the government forces and the armed opposition. The conditions are thus created for their stopping fighting each other and joining forces against the terrorists. Russia will contribute to this process.

Among other things, the agreements on de-escalation zones provide for stepping up practical cooperation between Moscow and Washington. Our joint efforts to enforce ceasefire in southwest Syria will be coordinated by the Monitoring Center, which Russia, the United States, and Jordan have agreed to establish in Amman. This center will maintain direct contact both with the opposition groups and representatives of the Syrian government. Basically, we keep the doors open to cooperation on further development of the de-escalation concept, while maintaining regular contact with the other key players that can influence developments in Syria. All in all, the July 7 agreement reached between Russia, the US, and Jordan shows that, despite differences in our positions and interests, cooperation is possible for common good. Let’s build on this to make further progress in dealing with jihadist aggression that distorted the entire Syrian situation.

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