United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will send his Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to Sochi next week to attend the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue.
Asharq Al-Awsat received the document prepared by Moscow to be issued in the conclusion of Sochi, including a call by the 1,500 participants to lift unilateral sanctions on Damascus, adopt procedures to start the reconstruction and allow the return of refugees without linking this to any political dimension.
Stephane Dujarric, the UN’s spokesman, said in a statement that “The Secretary-General is confident that the Congress in Sochi will be an important contribution to a revived intra-Syrian talks process under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva.”
This decision represented a shock to some of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC) members because it came hours after the HNC announced boycotting the congress.
For his part, Guterres sent to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a letter that includes a set of conditions for the UN to attend the Sochi congress.
One of the conditions is for the Syrian government delegation to constructively engage. The Secretary General calls for the formation of a constitutional committee with representatives from the Syrian government and the opposition. The constitutional committee should formulate a new constitution, Guterres says.
The UN chief also demands that the Sochi congress be held once and that it supports the Geneva peace process.
Furthermore, he calls on Assad’s commitment to approve a new constitution for holding parliamentary and presidential elections under UN supervision and in line with Resolution 2254.
Obviously, none of these conditions were achieved, therefore the future approach will focus on enhancing outcomes of Sochi Congress, which include two documents: the concluding statement and the call to the Syrian people.
This is the brief of the document prepared by Moscow to be approved in the conclusion of the congress:
Participants are convinced that the war in Syria against terrorism will soon end, and they call the UN, world humanitarian institutions and international community to contribute to overcoming the war consequences. Assisting the return of Syria to the peaceful life would reflect positively on the Middle East. There will also be a call to lift the sanctions imposed by one side on Syria, and this would resolve all humanitarian and economic problems.