Geneva II: Syrian Opposition Denies Revised Communique
The Syrian peace conference, known as “Geneva II” and held in Switzerland, has hit a number of major diplomatic stumbling blocks. Last week, the government delegation for Syria threatened to leave if “serious” talks had not commenced by last Saturday. The hold up had been over the opposing delegation’s insistence that they sign on to the communique of 2012, which outlined a plan for resolving conflict and stabilizing the country. “Both parties are going to be here tomorrow and they will be meeting. We will be working on Saturday and we will be working on Sunday. Nobody will be leaving on Saturday and nobody will be leaving on Sunday,” said Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint special representative for Syria, following the threat.
While neither jumped ship over the weekend, discussions continue to be rough going, specifically problematic in regards to what role the current president, Bashar al-Assad, would play in the future of the country. Brahimi admitted that things haven’t been going smoothly. “We haven’t achieved much, but we are continuing. We are moving not in steps but even in half-steps,” he said.
The government delegation offered an alternative communique to the 2012 version. The opposition delegation rejected it, with its chief negotiator, Hadi al Bahra, telling Reuters that, “The declaration is outside the framework of Geneva, which centers on creating a transitional governing body. It fails to address the core issue.”
“What’s amazing is that they rejected this communique in less than two minutes,” said the Syrian Information Minister, Omran al-Zoubi, a representative with the government delegation. He claimed that the communique should have been easily approved, that no two Syrians would disagree on the items within, according to his statement via the Syrian Arab News Agency (or, SANA.)