Geneva II ended on Friday without noticeable results. International differences about Syria continue. An International Conference on Security opened in Munich, in which the principal countries and international entities intervening in the Middle Easter crisis are participating.
The United National Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, asked the U.S. and Russia to exert pressure on the Government and the Opposition in Syria to return to negotiations on February 10 in Geneva. The aim is still the same: to achieve a cease-fire and halt the conflict which has already caused 136,000 deaths.
ZENIT spoke by telephone with Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and international entities with headquarters in Geneva, asking him to illustrate the situation at present.
“The information we have indicates that negotiations will be resumed again on February 10,” said Archbishop Tomasi. In regard to the achievements to date, he said that “not much has been concluded,” as the expectations were “that there would be a suspension of violence and war, and in this respect things have not matured sufficiently.”
“Despite this, it can’t be said that it was all negative, because they have expressed the wish to meet again to negotiate, both the Syrian Government as well as the Opposition,” specified the Archbishop, adding that “there is a desire that there be greater participation on the part of other rebel components, so that something can be concluded.”
The Holy See Observer pointed out among the achievements, the fact that the participants in the latest summit “accepted as a point of departure the conclusions of the Geneva I conference, which was the basis on which they wished to agree.”
The Geneva I summit was held in June of 2012 and the conclusions called for a Government of transition, for the preparation of a new Constitution and for the holding of free elections. The agreement was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.
Archbishop Tomasi lamented “that a cease-fire wasn’t achieved” and that “nothing had matured in regard to the humanitarian corridors.”
Asked about the Opposition, the Holy See Observer recalled that “last week there was an open battle between the Opposition and groups of mercenaries, irregulars that, as the Foreign Minister of Syria, Walid Al Mualem pointed out, would count on ‘volunteers’ from some 80 countries. The Opposition, therefore, began to fight against some of these groups.”
In regard to the religious minorities, he said that “all the parties negotiating indicated that they want a democratic future in which all have a right to exist.”
“In my intervention in Montreux, I insisted a lot that citizenship be the criterion that indicates belonging to the country, so that people can organize themselves according to the principles of free association, of religious liberty, but beginning from this common basis which is citizenship, to build a State that is really democratic and neutral in regard to ethnic, cultural or religious groups,” recalled Archbishop Tomasi.
“Let us pray that peace arrives in this martyred Syria, but not only there, because there are also so many tormented countries, such as the Central African Republic, Mali, the Congo, etc.,” concluded Archbishop Tomasi.