Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s intervention continues to provide the best path for the diplomacy to work at the Geneva 2 conference. Neither Lavrov nor US Secretary of State John Kerry were present in Geneva for some of the discussions Friday, Jan. 24, but Lavrov’s statement to the Montreux pre-meeting two days ago realistically laid out the pitfalls and provided a way forward.
Lavrov’s diplomacy stands in stark contrast to Kerry’s threats made in his interview with the Saudi-created Al Arabiya.
In Lavrov’s speech, he stressed that Russia has “consistently” said, there is no military solution to this Syrian crisis, and it can “not be settled by force.”
Lavrov recalled to the Montreux attendees that this acknowledgement that there is no military solution was the basis for the Geneva Communique, dated June 20, 2012, and had been “unanimously approved by the UN Security Council in its Resolution 2118.”
He urged all the countries present to urge both sides to do everything possible to work for that diplomatic solution, and also urged that the “opposition inside Syria” that was not present at the opening be encouraged and allowed to join the proceedings as they go on.
On the danger of the extremists, Lavrov said, “The threat that Syria could transform into the center of international terrorism is what has become the biggest problem,” and “We call on the Conference participants to do everything to help the Syrian government and the opposition join forces in order to eradicate terrorism. I should remind you that the leaders of the Group of Eight called for the same in the Final Communiqué of the Summit in Lough Erne in June 2013.”
Neither the last-minute report accusing Syria of war crimes, nor the fireworks from the opposition succeeded in stopping the talks, but the attempts at sabotage have not ended.