Yesterday, on the Day of the Diplomatic Employee in Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lauded what he described were Moscow’s extensive diplomatic triumphs in 2013, including the prevention of Western military intervention in Syria and the agreement with Iran. Lavrov said these successes were the result of a correctly chosen course, free from aggression and pressure. Today, solving any problem in any area can be done only through compromises based on a balance sheet. And this is a principle of our foreign policy, it is not yet put into service by everyone, but we strongly promote it and it has more and more supporters, Lavrov said.
One of Russia’s signature diplomatic successes in Syria is the prevention of a West-led war and getting the contesting sides in the same room to talk it over and end the conflict. It is evident that the overall resolution of the Syrian conflict is harder to come by.
The UN and Arab League mediator, veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, began the latest session in Geneva yesterday by shuttling between the government and opposition teams. In a letter reviewed by Reuters yesterday, Brahimi increased pressure on both the sides to show willingness in a peace process sponsored by Moscow and Washington that made no progress in the first round. He urged the participants to deal with the two main issues: stopping the fighting and working out discussions of a transitional governing body.
Lavrov’s colleague, Alexey Borodavkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office, criticized the Syrian opposition for its unchanged position during the Geneva II peace talks. Borodavkin referred to the Geneva Communique, saying that this stipulated that the talks should be attended by as wide a range of “moderate opposition” forces as possible, and insisting that the opposition delegates at the conference did not fully meet this description. “Achieving this goal has failed. A delegation that is part of the National Coalition opposition and revolutionary forces of political parties and groups came to Geneva II. This is regrettable,” Borodavkin said.
Russia continues its own talks with opposition groups, in hopes of bringing the non-terrorists into the discussions.