Key agreement on Syrian-led transition reached
Updated: 2012-07-01 14:02
GENEVA - An action group comprising of world powers that met Saturday in Geneva has agreed upon a roadmap that ushered the way for a Syrian-led transition, to end the country's 16-months' long conflict.
A joint communique after the meeting said that the global community wished to see "an end to the violence and human rights abuses" and that the Syrian people enjoyed rights to "independently and democratically determine their own future."
The meeting specified the steps and measures to secure full implementation of Special Envoy Kofi Annan's call for an immediate cease of violence in all forms.
The key steps for transition, as the meeting concluded, include the establishment of a transitional governing body that includes members of the present government and the opposition, an inclusive national dialogue process, and a review of the current constitution and legal system.
Once the new constitutional order is established, free and fair multi-party elections for new government offices will follow, the communique said.
The meeting also agreed that the political transition should comply with the aspiration of the Syrian people.
Any political transition must offer a future that can be shared by all Syrians, the document said.
The communique stressed that the future of Syria should give space to established and newly-emerging political actors to compete fairly and equally in elections.
"This also means that the commitment to multi-party democracy must be a lasting one, going beyond an initial round of elections, " it said.
The agreement was widely hailed as a major step forward toward resolving the crisis.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague represented the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to welcome the outcome.
"I think the result is a step forward, it is only a step forward but it is a step forward that is worth having," he said.
Foreign ministers of the Security Council's five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - attended the meeting, along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and delegates from Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, the Arab League, and the European Union.
Representatives of the Syrian government and opposition were absent.
In his conclusion remarks to the meeting, Kofi Annan said the international community has taken its cooperation to a stronger level, by being clearer and more specific and therefore have laid out a path that the Syrian people can embrace and work with.
The special envoy at the same time cautioned about inaction that might destroy the fragile outcome.
"Today's words must not become tomorrow's disappointments," he warned, urging all relevant parties to start working immediately and calling for all Syrians to embrace what has been laid out and work together to stop the killing and build a better future.
Though the agreement was built on more consensus and less divergence, some differences remain unabridged, in particular between Moscow and Washington.
The rift was apparent when the two countries both gave their own interpretation of what have been agreed just minutes after the endorsement of the communique.
The United States still holds pressurizing and subsequently toppling the government led by President Bashar al-Assad as its primary objective.
"Assad will still have to go," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, plainly expressing the United States saw no room for the current president and government in and after the transition.
"The text also makes clear that the power to govern is rested fully in the transitional governing body which strips him (Assad) and his regime of all authority if he and they refuse to step down and leave," she said.
Russia, a long-time ally to Damascus, insisted that no changes should occur unless the Syrians first agreed, in other words, the process should be Syrian-led.
"We consider it to be of key importance that there is no attempt in the document to impose upon the Syrian side any kind of transition process," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
He stressed that the process should not exclude the participation of any group, as was written in the communique, denying preconditions to the transitional process and the national dialogue.