Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:13am GMT
MOSCOW Nov 17 (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that an attack by Syrian army defectors on an intelligence complex resembled civil war and reiterated Moscow's call for talks between Syria's government and its opponents.
He said such talks should take place at the Arab League headquarters.
"We see television reports that say some new force, the so-called Free Syrian Army I believe, organised an attack on a government building... belonging to the Syrian armed forces. This is already completely similar to real civil war," Lavrov told reporters after a meeting with Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna in Moscow.
Russia has called on Assad to implement promised reforms faster but says his opponents share blame for the violence that the United Nations says has killed more than 3,500 people since a government crackdown on protesters began eight months ago.
Russia joined China last month in vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Assad's government. (Reporting by Thomas Grove; Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel)
Russia supports the idea that working in Syria from the Arab League observers and foreign media
MOSCOW, November 17. / ITAR-TASS /. Russia supports the idea that working in Syria and Arab League observers from foreign media. This was stated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"The question of the direction of Syria, observers from the Arab League is not new - the minister said. - In this form it was officially stated in the initiative of the Arab League on November 2. We strongly support the idea that observers of Arab States, as well as outdoor media got free access to Syria ".
"Too much has been controversial in the information area about what is happening in the country, and the presence of observers, as well as journalists, would help to clarify the information now", - stated Lavrov.
He also drew attention to the fact that "a few days ago, the Syrian government announced the agreement to accept observers from the Arab League and to ensure their presence anywhere in the country."
At the meeting Wednesday in Rabat by Foreign Ministers of the Arab League decided to invite Syria to sign a protocol for sending to the country of the Arab Observer. It is expected that they will be able to ascertain on the spot in the performance of Damascus commitments in accordance with the Arab settlement plan, the crisis in Syria. LAS gave Damascus three days of signing the protocol, while pointing to "the need for immediate suspension of all acts of violence and murder." In addition, it was decided that the Syrian government should announce their agreement to perform all items of Arab "road map" adopted by the Arab League in early November.
‘Russia maintains dialogue both with Assad and Syrian opposition’
Russian lawmaker and foreign policy architect Konstantin Kosachev thinks that Russia is “probably one of the very few, or maybe the only country, which maintains dialogue both with Assad and with the opposition.”
Kosachev told RT that the opposition has visited Russia recently.
“We had rather a good discussion in Moscow – nobody else does the same thing. People either support this or that part. We are impartial, we have dialogue with each side, and hopefully we will succeed in promoting further political process there.”
The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the State Duma believes that targeting Damascus is counterproductive to solving the crisis in Syria, while, he notes, the situation is getting more and more alarming.
“For me the fact that the violence is escalating is a reflection of the wrong approach taken by certain states, a unilateral approach, when they keep saying to the people of Syria that ‘You, people, are right, and the authorities are wrong’. This is a wrong approach, because that type of messages introduces an illusion that, the people of Syria can get freedom and democracy by using violence against the ruling authorities and not by negotiations.”
According to Kosachev, the message being sent to the Syrian authorities and the Syrian people by Russia is “much more appropriate.”
The sanctions by the Arab League and the West are based on the argument that Damascus is cracking down on peaceful demonstrators. But Damascus says it is fighting the Free Syrian Army, which is apparently well-armed and coordinated, and is staging a full-on assault on the regime. As for Russia’s view on the way the Free Syrian Army are conducting themselves, there are certain “questions” to them concerning this, as the Russian lawmaker points out.
“We do have questions because we can see they use heavy weapons, they are well equipped, so it is not just about throwing stones at policemen or bodyguards – this is about using heavy weapons and this is a real war. And for Russia the most important thing is to prevent further casualties and victims, and the only way to do that is to maintain the political process once again. I believe that Russia, the US and the EU, the Arab League and anybody else is to send the only message to all conflicting sides in the country – that is to try and speak to each other.”
13:04 17/11/2011RUSSIAN PRESS REVIEW
EU not ready for lifting visa regimens even if Moscow fulfils its all requirements
MOSCOW, November 17 (Itar-Tass) -- On Wednesday, the Permanent Council of the Russia-EU partnership will have a meeting in Moscow. The meeting will feature Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his EU counterpart Catherine Ashton, the Kommersant reports. The meeting will make it clear if the sides will be able to agree finally the List of mutual efforts and subsidiary measures for transfer to a visa-free regimen for short-term visits of citizens of Russia and the EU, so that to have it adopted at the December Russia-EU summit in Brussels.
Russia has been seeking visa abolition since 2002, the newspaper says. This meeting will be critical as far as whether President Dmitry Medvedev and his European counterparts will approve in December the List of mutual efforts and subsidiary measures for transfer to a visa-free regimen for short-term visits of citizens of Russia and the EU.
The will discuss a list of requirements, which, if fulfilled, may bring Russia closer to the aspired visa-free regimen with Europe. They are protection of identification documents, fighting illegal migration and management of migration flows, settlement of readmission issues (readiness to accept back own citizens in case of deportation), joint control at borders, as well as fighting organised crime, terrorism and corruption. A week earlier, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the sides had finalised agreement on the list of mutual steps. The minister expressed hope that the document would be approved finally by the summit in December.
Meanwhile, the Kommersant’s source in a European country close to the negotiations, says that the document is agreed “not fully, but by 95 percent.” The source says that the remaining five percent will be agreed at the meeting in Moscow. “It will not be easy to do,” the source said adding that Moscow insists that the document reads that as Moscow fulfils all technical requirements under the List.., the process of abolishing visas starts immediately. But Europeans suggest using another variant: Russia fulfils all requirement – from improvement of biometric passports to easier domestic registration procedures for foreigners – and then the EU representatives get together once again to discuss whether to abolish visas with Russia or not.
The issue of automatic abolishment of visas following fulfilment of the List is a key aspect for the future liberalisation of the visa regimen, the newspaper reports the EC’s expert in international affairs Ben Judah as saying. He says that many people in the EC are concerned that providing for Russia a guaranteed abolishment of visas would make it have more privileged position than Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia and may be taken as a sort of Brussels’ legitimisation of Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin.
By turning down the item on automatism, Europeans want to retain a possibility to present to Moscow additional requirements, if necessary, including political ones, for example regarding human rights, Judah said.
At the same time, Russia’s diplomatic source says that Moscow does not see sense in fulfilling the requirements on the List without the provision for the automatic abolishment of visas. “We should see clearly the final objective,” the source said.