From afar, quickly: why did Sergey Lavrov go to Syria

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The visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Damascus was important and timely – this was the conclusion of experts interviewed by Izvestia. According to them, the trip took place at a time when the political transition to the SAR became a very real prospect. During a September 7 visit to the Syrian capital, the chief of Russian diplomacy, in a conversation with the leadership of the republic, touched upon such problematic issues as the cleansing of terrorists from the Idlib province and the work of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva. Sergey Lavrov drew attention to the fact that the situation in Syria is gradually calming down, which means that post-war reconstruction with the mobilization of international assistance is coming to the fore.

On September 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Damascus. This was his first official visit to Syria since February 2012. During the trip, he met with the President of the Republic Bashar al-Assad and his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem. The diplomats summed up the results at a joint press conference, which was held with the participation of Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Yuri Borisov.

The diplomats made it clear that the political transition and settlement of the situation in the country are going according to plan. The parties discussed one of the key issues – the delimitation of the opposition from terrorists in the Syrian province of Idlib, which the Turkish side took upon itself. According to Sergei Lavrov, Moscow has every reason to believe that Ankara will complete its work.

The situation in the country has recently calmed down, and the remaining hotbeds of terrorism will be destroyed, the Russian minister said, touching upon the situation around the Syrian Constitutional Committee, which recently resumed work in Geneva, as well as the topic of the presidential elections in the SAR.

– The question of elections in Syria is a question of the Syrian government. And until a new constitution is developed or the current one is not changed, the current constitution remains in force in the form in which it now exists, ”said Sergei Lavrov, stressing that“ there are no deadlines for the work of the Constitutional Committee, and there cannot be. ”

In turn, Walid Muallem said that the presidential elections will be held, as planned, in 2021. According to him, their holding has nothing to do with the work of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva.

– It was a very important visit. The time has come – the synchronization of clocks, so there is a need for Sergei Lavrov himself to go to the republic, – orientalist Roland Bidzhamov told Izvestia. – Of course, the first and main issue was the situation in Idlib. The second is the issue of the Constitutional Commission, and, finally, the country’s economy. All three of these blocks were discussed at the meeting.

According to the expert, in the Idlib issue, it is very important that Sergey Lavrov confirmed his commitment to the Astana process. He pointed out that Turkey, Iran and Syria are cooperating successfully, despite the difference in approaches. As for the Constitutional Committee, at the meeting clear positions were again outlined. It is also important that Moscow has confirmed that the work of the committee and the holding of the presidential elections in the SAR in 2021 are in no way connected.

According to the orientalist and former diplomat Vyacheslav Matuzov, the visit of the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry took place just in time: after completing the main fight against terrorism, Syria faced political unsettledness, which prevents the main thing – the preservation of the country’s territorial integrity.

“Therefore, it is necessary to implement the agreements that were reached in Astana, Sochi, Ankara and Moscow on the Syrian settlement,” the expert explained to Izvestia. – Recently, the first round of negotiations of the Syrian Constitutional Committee took place (it resumed work on August 24 after a nine-month break – Izvestia), which, according to our Foreign Ministry, ended with positive results.

The Syrian Constitutional Committee was formed on the basis of a 2018 resolution adopted in Sochi by the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue. It included 150 people (50 delegates each from Damascus, opposition and civil society). The first meeting of the committee was held in Geneva on October 30, 2019. The second session of the committee ended on November 29, 2019 without results – then the parties could not agree on an agenda.

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