Talks on de-escalation zones positively affect opposition’s mood in Geneva — Russian envoy
GENEVA. KAZINFORM The discussion on de-escalation zones has had a positive impact on the Syrian opposition's mood in Geneva, Russia's Permanent Representative at the UN Office and Other International Organizations in the Swiss city Alexey Borodavkin said on Saturday, TASS News Agency reports.
"The Astana process has had a very positive impact on the situation and atmosphere of talks in Geneva," the diplomat said. The opposition delegation has revised its stance showing more understanding that mending ties with Damascus is necessary for carrying out reforms and changing the constitution in Syria, setting up new governing bodies, holding fair elections and combating terrorism, he said.
"The Astana process and the agreement on de-escalation in four zones have affected the opposition leaders in a positive way," Borodavkin said. "Now they are holding talks much more constructively and try to show flexibility if possible."
The Riyadh group of the Syrian opposition has changed its stance on President Bashar Assad, announcing no demand for his immediate departure at the Geneva talks, Borodavkin said.
"Under the influence of Astana, Russian-US contacts at the highest level in Hamburg and statements of leaders and foreign ministers of major players on Syria, the High Negotiations Committee (Riyadh group) changed its position," the diplomat said.
During the talks, the opposition members did not mention the need for the immediate departure of Assad and the legitimate Syrian government, he noted.
"Finally, it seems that even the radically-minded opposition members and their foreign sponsors understand that first peace should be established in Syria. And then an agreement may be reached on a political reform as soon as the situation in the country normalizes," Borodavkin said.
"So, the goal of the opposition has been somehow changed. Now they speak not about toppling the legitimate government led by Bashar Assad but about reaching agreements with him on a political reform," the diplomat said.
Extremist elements insisting on the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad remain in the Riyadh group of the opposition, the diplomat said. "There are still drawbacks in the negotiating process. I should say the major one is that unfortunately the Riyadh group at these talks still includes extremist-minded elements that demand, though in a low voice, the departure of the legitimate Syrian President Bashar Assad," the diplomat said.
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