Russia said that the draft constitution it has offered is an attempt to find a common ground for talks between the Syrians and not a forced document, after the Syrian opposition refused it saying it’s an internal Syrian matter.
Russia said it has a new plan for Syria peace talks which can be achieved with powers that have a real effect on the Syrian ground after its forces backed Assad regime to achieve many victories against the opposition and tilted the tide of war in his favor.
Russia, Iran, and Turkey said they were ready to help broker a Syria peace deal, and organized peace talks meeting in Kazakhstan on January 23.
The first day of the talks was focused on ways to strengthen the ceasefire. It ended with tension as both parts traded blames over truce breaches. In addition, the opposition refused to have direct negotiations with Assad regime.
The talks have ended with Russia, Turkey and Iran making a joint statement about the consequences of the talks and agreeing on a mechanism to support a delicate ceasefire.
Russia presented the new constitution document in Arabic during a meeting with the chief rebel negotiator, Mohammad Alloush, at peace talks this week in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that the blueprint written by Russian experts was based on ideas from the Syrian government, opposition, and regional powers.
An invitation for conversation
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a telephone conversation with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, on Friday to brief the results of Astana talks.
“During the discussion of the situation in Syria, Sergey Lavrov informed his French counterpart about the results of the Astana meeting where representatives of official Damascus and the armed opposition who are in actual control of the situation on the ground were brought together for the first time, despite numerous differences, to consolidate cessation of hostilities. The sides are now set for dialogue which will help resume the United nations-brokered talks in Geneva,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said after the conversation.
“Work in the Astana format will be continued.”
“Lavrov commented on the Syrian constitution draft prepared by the Russian side, stressing that it is ‘an invitation to a conversation,’ an attempt to find common ground in the approaches of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the opposition in order to create conditions for Syrians themselves to determine the fate of their country in accordance with the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2254,” the statement added.
The draft proposes that the Syrian president be elected for seven years without the right to seek re-election, Interfax reported, citing a person familiar with the document it didn’t identify.
It also suggests that the country will have a parliament with two chambers and rejects Sharia as the basis for law, the newswire said.
“The president is elected for a period of seven years by the Syrian citizens through a general, equal and direct election and through a secret ballot; the re-election of the same individual to the post of president is prohibited except for one additional term,” the Russia-proposed constitutional draft reads.
Syria’s opposition has previously rejected a proposal from Russia on a new constitution for the conflict-torn country, warning the Kremlin against repeating the mistake made by the Bush administration after the US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussain in Iraq.
“We told them that the Syrians are the ones who are entitled to write the constitution,” Yahya Al Aridi, a member of the opposition delegation to the Astana negotiations, said by phone on Wednesday.
“The experience of Paul Bremer in Iraq is quite clear — when a constitution is written by another country, politically it won’t work.”
Al Aridi was referring to the US official who governed Iraq under occupation from 2003-2004. He declined to comment on the contents of the Russian proposal.
“We appreciate that they have moved to a peace track and confirmed to them that we are cooperative in that regard, as long as they are serious,” Al Aridi said of Russia. “It’s their job as guarantors to take care of other parties who are not helping them achieve something at a political level.”
Head of the Russian delegation Alexander Lavrentyev underlined that Russia was not interfering in consideration of constitution and presented the draft to the opposition simply in order to accelerate the process.
“Naturally, this is not an issue of our pressure, or attempts to force some kind of a rigid framework on opposition groups. This is an invitation for a discussion on the most important issue — the future of Syria,” Zakharova said in an interview with Rossiya-24 television.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.