Community close to Vatican meets with Syrian politicians; Negotiations Committee and National Coalition deny their attendance
Turkey - SMART
The Italian Community of Sant'Egidio, which is close to the Vatican and based in Rome, met with Syrian politicians, including members of the High Negotiations Committee, founded during the Riyadh 2 Conference and the Syrian National Coalition. The meeting discussed the most recent Syrian developments and issued a document containing several recommendations that will be delivered later to the countries that are concerned with the Syrian issue. The National Coalition and the Negotiations Committee denied their attendance.
Meeting was prolonged and discussions were on political and humanitarian issues in Syria
On Thursday, a source at the meeting reported that the October 30 meeting was the second of its kind, preparations for a third meeting are underway. The conference aims to activate the political track.
The source stressed that each Syrian politician in attendance was personally invited. Among those invited was Ismail Haj Bakri, Abdul Jalil Abdul Said, Randa Kassis, Fadi Ibrahim, Ibrahim al-Asmi, Mohammed Yahya Maktabi, Nabil Kassis, Salem al-Muslet, Abdul Aziz al-Shalal, Nawaf al-Sheikh Fares, Fuad Aliko, Hossam al-Hafiz, Hisham Marwa and Wajih Juma.
The document, signed by many of the politicians mentioned earlier, outlined details of the new government and parliament. The document also called for the formation of a committee to draft a Syrian constitution before the end of the year, paving the way for free and fair elections. The document also called for a general amnesty and the abolition of all laws, legislation, and procedures aimed to prosecute and punish those involved in the events in Syria.
The source noted that among those proposals there are particular items on the establishment of parties and the removal of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, from power. The source added that the Vatican had adopted the document and the Community of Sant’Egidio will deliver it to countries, especially decision-makers, in coordination with the Vatican.
The source stated that the Syrian politicians met with the official responsible for the external relations in the Vatican and some officials accountable for the Syrian issue in the Italian Foreign Ministry. They discussed the field situation and the importance of the Sochi agreement on Idlib, focusing on the humanitarian and relief side and the people’s suffering there. They also discussed the reduction of the political process to the Constitutional Commission, as the source said.
Negotiations Committee and National Coalition confirm absence from meeting
In a statement, the Negotiations Committee confirmed that it did not attend the meeting. The Committee also states that it did not authorize anyone to speak on its behalf at such a conference, the source said.
The Negotiations Committee added, “Although the Committee welcomes any clear effort committed to Syrians’ rights stipulated in the international resolutions related to the Syrian issue, it confirms that it has a clear and complete vision and documents that enable it to enter the political process in order to achieve the desired political transition agreed by the Security Council Resolution No. 22544.”
The Negotiations Committee called on those in charge of any meeting or workshop to avoid mixing the papers that may harm the Syrian issue by interfering with the Committee’s attitude and work approach.
The National Coalition stressed that it was not involved in the creation of the document and that it did not assign anyone to represent it at those meetings. The National Coalition said that the Negotiations Committee is the one that is authorized to work on the approval of the negotiating papers and policies of the revolutionary forces and the opposition. It also called on all parties to avoid any steps that harm the political process aimed at achieving the aspirations of the Syrian people.
In response to our question about the source's expectation that the National Coalition or the Negotiations Committee may take any action towards the political members who attended the meeting, it answered, "No, no actions."
Who are the association and the sponsor of the meeting?
The Sant'Egidio Christian Community was founded in 1968; it has members in 70 countries. It has adopted some peace initiatives and received several awards for that, including UNESCO award and a nomination from the Italian Parliament for the Nobel Peace Prize.
On Monday, the Negotiations Committee held a meeting on Syria with representatives of the Mini Group of States (United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan). The Committee’s head, Nasr al-Hariri, attended the meeting and called for the implementation of the Security Council Resolution No. 2254. The delegation of the Committee also met with the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, announced he would resign at the end of November, to discuss the obstacles the Syrian government put in place to the formation of a committee charged with amending the Syrian constitution. The Syrian government rejected any intervention by the UN in the process of choosing participants for the new negotiations committee, which be finalized next month after the resignation of Saffan de Mistura.