Rivals face-off on first day of Geneva 2

Syrian regime and opposition representatives met face-to-face on the first day of tense peace talks.

Rivals face-off on first day of Geneva 2

World Bulletin / News Desk

The first day of the Geneva II conference came to a close amidst sharp disagreements and accusations by its participants regarding the ongoing Syrian conflict. .

"More than 40 delegations came to Montreux today with one purpose: to send a message to the two Syrian delegations and the Syrian people that the world wants an urgent end to the conflict and a political solution for Syria," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"We have just completed a high-level segment of the Geneva Conference on Syria," Ban said.

Ban thanked the two opposing Syrian delegations for their presence.

"It is not easy to sit across a table after so much bloodshed and destruction, but many countries have found peace and a new future through negotiations as we are determined to help the Syrians achieve this too," Ban said.

"The past three years have been filled with horror. The bombardment of civilians and towns, the use of chemical weapons, terrorist attacks, executions, disappearances, torture, killing and destruction…enough is enough," he added.

Regarding Friday's meeting in Geneva, Ban said, "That's when the hard work begins. The two Syrian delegations will be in talks chaired by Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi. This must be a Syrian-led process; Syrian owned and one that fully respects Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity."

Syrian rivals come face-to-face

Syria's United Nations envoy on Wednesday criticized the format of the Geneva II peace conference, which aims to find a political solution to nearly three years of conflict in Syria.

In his press conference after the opening session of talks in Montreux, Bashar Jaafari argued that the Syrian National Coalition is not fully representative of the Syrian opposition.

"The conference's primary aim must be to put an end to terrorism," said Jaafari, criticizing speakers for giving statements based on what he termed 'hatred' towards the Syrian government.

Jaafari accused "some countries" of giving support to terrorist groups in the region.

Various Al-Qaeda-linked groups are understood to also be waging battle against the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, Syrian National Coalition (SNC) President Ahmad Jarba said on Wednesday the opportunities created by the Geneva II conference cannot be lost.

In concluding remarks to the opening day of the conference, Jarba expressed gratitude to the countries that supported Syria.

"We especially want to thank Turkey for its unbiased support to the Syrian people," he said.

Jarba also demanded that an international inquiry be set up to look into the Assad regime's detention centers, where systematic torture and killing was allegedly carried out. His demand came on the heels of the release of photographs that revealed the brutal killing of nearly 11,000 detainees at the hands of regime forces.

"The SNC is struggling to implement the decisions spelled out in the Geneva Communique, but the regime closes the possibility of a solution with its messages," Jarba said, adding that his side is still hopeful that a settlement can be reached.

Turkish FM slams Syrian regime

The criticisms made against Turkey by the Syrian regime today on the first day of Geneva II peace talks in the Swiss city of Montreux on Wednesday are 'unacceptable', said Turkey's Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused the Syrıan National Coalition (SNC) of violations such as treason, looting and espionage and accused Turkey of standing by the terrorists.

Davutoglu told Turkish reporters, following today's conference, that Muallem's speech had offended the soul of Geneva II by accusing other countries in an aggressive tone.

He said Syria's Assad regime's continuing massacre is probably the biggest crime of the 21st century.

"We would wish that the conference could have convened in a more positive atmosphere," he said.

Praising Ahmed al-Jarba's speech, the head of the Syrıan National Coalition (SNC), the minister said it was not 'provocative'.

"Both sides must have equal conditions to ensure that the conference will be successful. The most important outcome of today's meeting is that the sides are defined: the Syrian regime and the Syrian National Coalition."

Davutoglu reiterated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not have the moral legitimacy to rule the country, let alone political legitimacy.

The minister said earlier today that the Syrian regime was deceiving the entire international community with their lies.

"History will judge Syria's regime very badly," he said.

Davutoglu said Turkey would continue to operate an open-door policy wıth reference to around 700,000 Syrian refugees living in Turkey who have fled the country's ongoing civil war.

"From now on, one more life lost is too many, negotiations cannot be open-ended," he said.

The minister called on the international community to act on photographs that appear to illustrate the regime's human rights abuses.

"Those who have committed war crimes must be held accountable," he added.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Ocak 2014, 14:03