2016-06-02 10:58:00

Russian senator skeptical about Ramadan truce initiative for Syria

Moscow, June 2, Interfax - The Ramadan truce initiative for Syria is good but hardly feasible, Federation Council International Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachyov said.

"Indeed, this is a useful initiative, as it has been put forward against the backdrop of the ongoing intensive negotiations between major actors in the Syrian 'field', including Russia and the United States. However, there are certain doubts about its feasibility," Kosachyov told Interfax on Thursday.

He commented on reports that the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) had invited UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to declare a truce in Syria for the entire Holy Month of Ramadan.

Kosachyov recalled that a similar initiative was made by Ban Ki-moon in 2013. Back then he urged the opposing sides to give a month of peace to their people as a joint gift. That did not happen, Kosachyov said.

"I want to believe that all conflicting parties have become wiser and more peaceful. But I cannot be sure about this. The strictly religious motivation does not seem to work. Besides, in the opinion of the leader of the Hmeimim domestic Syrian opposition group, militants may use the truce to their advantage for regrouping," the parliamentarian said.

Practically all parties to the conflict claim that they want a truce, "but actually every one of them is suspicious of the other," he said.

"Given those circumstances, it would be objectively difficult for external forces, including Russia, to guarantee the truce, the key to which is consent and mutual trust between the sides. If it had existed, the Geneva [talks] would have probably been successful long ago," the Federation Council International Affairs Committee chairman said.

It is equally important to make sure that terrorists barred from the Geneva process do not take advantage of the truce, Kosachyov said.

"So, the skepticism is grounded," he said.

At the same time, the parliamentarian called positive the fact that tangible progress had been made in the Syrian settlement process since 2013 and that the Russian and U.S. foreign ministers regularly speak to each other and discuss Syria issues, in the first turn; he also said he had a feeling that the number of sides interested in a successful outcome had been growing.

"It is possible that the Ramadan truce initiative will not be implemented, but it is important per se: its opponents have little to say against it because everyone wants to be seen as a peacemaker and a full-value participant in the peace process," Kosachyov said.

"In the end, Ramadan is the time when every faithful Muslim should do good deeds. What can be kinder than stopping the war in one's own land?" the parliamentarian said.