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Syrian FM: De Mistura Not Authorized to Set Date for Syria’s Upcoming Elections

12 March 2016 16:59



Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem strongly criticized the recent statements of UN’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura about the upcoming presidential elections in his country, and said that only the Syrian nation can determine their fate.

“De Mistura doesn’t have the right to talk about presidential elections as this issue is an exclusive right of the Syrian people,” the Arabic-language media outlets quoted Muallem as saying.

He said what de Mistura has stated is a deviation from all the UN documents, adding, “We do not accept that de Mistura give up objectivity to please this or that party.”

The Syrian foreign minister pointed to the recent statements of his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir, and said he “always repeats his statements on all occasions and what he says is worthless”.

“Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” Muallem added.

Muallem, meantime, announced that the Syrian delegation has received a letter from de Mistura scheduling Monday as a date for meeting at the UN HQ in Geneva within the Syrian-Syrian dialogue.

“Meeting with our delegation at first is a good thing,” he said.

“We are looking forward to having dialogue with the broadest spectrum of opposition groups in implementation of de Mistura’s mandate by the UN Security Council and the two Vienna communiqués, particularly the national opposition that is not linked to any foreign agendas,” Muallem added.

As for the upcoming parliamentary elections, Muallem said holding the elections is part of the constitution, stressing that this issue should be respected where no reservations can be accepted by anyone, calling for a high turnout of Syrian voters.

Muallem stressed that Syria is committed to the cessation of hostilities agreement, noting that there have been breaches of the agreement that were responded to by the army sometimes and overlooked in other times.

“We underline the Syrian army’s right to respond to breaches,” he added.

He used this opportunity to urge those who have taken up weapons to utilize the agreement of the cessation of hostilities and engage in reconciliations as “the crisis is coming to an end.”

In his comments on the talk about foreign ground intervention in Syria that came up in the past period, Muallem reaffirmed that “no one dares to intervene in Syria in a ground war, and that talk has receded and Obama’s recent speech has proved that.”

“I say with confidence that our people will reject any attempts at dividing the country,” he said.

Muallem referred to the recent statements made by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov as circulated by the media, clarifying that the statements were not quoted objectively because “Ryabkov made it contingent on the Syrians’ approval…and we, the Syrians, reject the talk about federalism and stress the unity of Syria.”

Muallem asserted that the Syrian people are optimistic about the talks in Geneva, adding however that while the Syrian Arab Republic’s delegation is going to Geneva with the intention to made the dialogue a success, this issue depends also on the other parties as well.

“If those have illusions of taking over power through Geneva after they failed in the battlefield, they will fail once again,” he added.

He made it clear that nowhere in the UN documents there is something that talks about a transition period of presidency, “which is why there should be agreement on the definition of transition period.”

“As far as we understand it, transition is to move from a standing constitution to a new one and from a standing government to another that involves the other party,” he said.

Muallem went on saying that the standing constitution will remain in place until holding a referendum by the Syrian people on a new or an amended one, reiterating again that there is no link between the legislative elections and what is going on in Geneva.

“We are going to Geneva and we do not know with whom we will have dialogue,” he said, pointing out that the Republic’s delegation will wait for no more than 24 hours for the other parties to show up, and if no one shows up the delegation will leave Geneva and the other party will be held responsible for the failure of the talks.

Muallem affirmed that the Republic’s delegation does not put preconditions for the dialogue in Geneva, adding that those who know Syria and the Syrian leadership well realize that “we do not bow to anyone, whether states or groups.”

“We will not have dialogue with any side that discusses the position of the president. This is a red line and it is up to the Syrians alone,” he reiterated.

Asked about the Kurds in Syria, Muallem affirmed that “Our brothers, the Kurds, are Syrian citizens, and they are with us in the same trench against ISIL.”

In his reply to a question on national reconciliations, the minister said they are one of the priorities of the Syrian policy and that they contribute to quenching the flames of war, noting that the Russian role in this matter is to continue these reconciliations.

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