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Syria: rapporteur urges international plan for security and political transition

Dora Bakoyannis (Greece, EPP/CD), rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the situation in Syria, has called on the international community to support a wide-ranging plan to bring security and political transition to the country – backed by the UN and regional powers such as Russia and Iran.

Addressing a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee in Athens, Mrs Bakoyannis – who is a former Greek Foreign Minister – said such a plan could envisage the possible creation of a federation, since both the Assad regime and opposition were “sine qua non factors for a peaceful transition”, although retaining a strong central government within existing borders.

The rapporteur said that solidifying zones of control across Syria were making de facto partition more likely, but cautioned: “Partition is not a stable end outcome, since it will be characterised by continued violence and will create a power vacuum that will give space to terrorists.”

She called for renewed impetus at the Geneva talks with all players including Kurdish representatives, a special meeting of the UN Security Council on Syria, and urged Russia and Iran to agree on the principles for political change in the country: “We need a common agreement in order to guarantee peace and security. Pacifying Syria, uniting the nation, reconciling the factions and safeguarding the return of displaced citizens are absolute priorities. Then the way towards elections and the draft of a new Constitution could easily be paved.”

Mrs Bakoyannis also called for the creation of an international court to bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst atrocities carried out during the conflict.

“There is no need for anybody to declare victory in Syria,” said Mrs Bakoyannis. “We only need to find a way to give the Syrian people security and help to rebuild their homeland. Our message should not turn into a blame game. There are no good or bad fighters in Syria. Atrocities have been committed by everybody.”

She concluded: “It is time to face reality and make brave political decisions for the transition of Syria into a new state of order, for the sake of its people and the international community.”

Professor Sotirios Roussos of the University of Peloponnisos, who also took part in the exchange of views, agreed that reflection on the future of Syria was essential to preserve its unity and avoid divisions along ethnic lines. “Inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogue will be key to the success and stability of the country in the long term,” he pointed out.

Mrs Bakoyannis presented a preliminary draft of her report to the committee. Her final report is due to be debated by the Parliamentary Assembly in due course.