Geneva- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was "delighted" at the outcome of crisis talks on Syria held in Geneva on Saturday and that the document agreed on did not imply Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should step down.
After the first session of the international work group meeting in Geneva on Saturday, Lavrov told a news conference there were no preconditions to Syria's transition process and no attempt to exclude any group from a proposed national unity government. The key point was that the agreement did not attempt to impose a process on Syria, he said.
Lavrov said that the document released from Geneva meeting imposes nothing on the Syrian people and has no preconditions on the political process or national dialogue nor does it exclude any side.
Lavrov said that Russia rejects any preconditions, and that it managed to reach a unified position with its partners to pressure all sides, not to take any unilateral steps, adding that Russia also worked constructively to avoid any attempts to make ultimatums and made amendments to the preliminary statements which resulted in the final version.
He said that the document produced by the meeting sends a clear message to the Syrian government and the armed groups to work in a synchronized manner to implement the plan of UN Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, cease all armed activities, and support the UN mission.
Lavrov said that the meeting aims at calling major players in Syria to cooperate to guarantee the implementation of the peace plan and calling on foreign sides to influence all sides within Syria to commit to the plan.
He pointed out that the transitional political process will be led by the Syrian people, and that the document complies with the principles leading to such a process and affirms the basic principles of a democratic countries, including respecting human rights and the rights of minorities and sects, in addition to stressing the need for free and democratic elections and forming a body that expresses the people's opinions.
Moscow had refused to back a provision that would call for President al-Assad to step aside, insisting that outsiders cannot order a political solution for Syria and accusing the West of ignoring the darker side of the Syrian opposition. The opposition has made clear it would not take part in a government in which President Bashar al-Assad still held power.
Sergei Lavrov underlined that the plan does not require President al-Assad's ouster, saying there is "no attempt in the document to impose on the Syrian people any type of transitional process."
Lavrov noted that partners in the work group wanted to issue a new resolution from the Security Council, but Russia rejected this as the group gathering in Geneva isn't authorized to preemptively issue such a resolution as the Council has its procedures, and that this idea is being studied and the decision will be made by the Security Council.
Lavrov accused armed opposition groups in Syria of provoking the government to use force disproportionately. "We cannot say that the regime should simply withdraw its heavy artillery that it is shooting at armed citizens," he said, referring to one of the conditions that the U.N. had set for sending truce monitors to Syria. "Certain armed groups and those who sponsor them are always trying to provoke the spiraling violence."
He hoped that all sides will realize that the document requires them to commit to it and exert positive influence on all sides, specifically armed groups, to implement Annan's plan.
"We support Annan's Efforts and have full trust in the UN observer mission and its ability to achieve stability in all these town and villages so that civilians can live in peace," Lavrov said.
He stressed that the document produced by the Geneva meeting underscores the need for a peaceful solution that takes the interests of all Syrians into consideration, adding that all the participants in the Geneva meeting are against further militarization of the conflict.
"We cannot call upon the government forces to withdraw from cities while armed groups are receiving weapons… US and European media show this, " he added.
Lavrov stressed that the document produced by the Geneva meeting doesn't exclude anyone, since such an exclusion is inconsistent with inclusiveness in the political process and the UN Charter and rules against interference in the affairs of sovereign countries.
On the shooting down of the Turkish military aircraft which violated Syria's sovereignty, Lavrov said that the incident requires careful investigation, and that Russia voiced deep regret over and called for taking all precautions to avoid repeating it and exploiting any incident to increase tension.
"We supported a joint investigation between Syria and Turkey... we have our own information and objective observations and we're ready to present them to both countries, but the main responsibility is on the two countries," he said.