Russia has announced that it will host a “Syrian Congress on National Dialogue” in Sochi. The undersigned organizations believe that such a Conference would not allow meaningful representation and participation for all Syrians, and poses a serious threat to the potential for any viable peace process in Syria.
The signatories recognize the need for a fair and credible national dialogue process. However, the proposed “Syrian Congress on National Dialogue” is neither fair nor credible. It will instead only further undermine the Geneva Peace Process and all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including Security Council resolution 2254.
Russia’s military intervention in Syria and its repeated use of the veto at the United Nations Security Council makes Russia a party to the conflict. Given its actions in Syria, Russia cannot be regarded as either a neutral mediator or a fair convener of a national dialogue process. The only process that is legitimate or credible is the UN-led process.
Syrian Civil Society acknowledges that the Geneva Process has many flaws, yet it remains the only legitimate political track and the only one perceived as neutral by the Syrian people. It is critical that the UN continue to reaffirm the primacy of Security Council resolution 2254, which established a clear sequencing for a credible political process, starting with political transition, followed by a constitutional referendum and free and fair elections. The Sochi Conference undermines the primacy of UN Security Council resolution 2254 and the UN-led peace process and risks providing legitimacy to the Assad regime. Any participation by the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, in the Sochi Conference represents a dangerous departure from the UN-led Geneva process.
Any successful peace process must first begin by gaining the trust of the Syrian people. No real transition can occur without accountability for crimes and justice for victims and their families. Equally, no real transition can occur without an end to the ongoing airstrikes and besiegement of civilians or in the absence of a solution for detainees and missing persons.