Russia-Cyprus Relations Could Help in Syria - El-Araby
Russia and China need to be on board in order for the Syrian conflict to be resolved at the UN Security Council level, and the relations between Cyprus and Russia could be helpful towards this end, said Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby during his visit to Nicosia.
Russia and China have vetoed recent Security Council resolutions calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be replaced. The EU has also recognised the Syrian National Council and slapped strict sanctions on Assad.
As of July 1st when Cyprus takes up the EU presidency, it will be the leader of the EU and the EU is a major player in giving the Syrian people the right to attain their legimate demands, said el-Araby.
What is happening in Syria is a grave violation of human rights and there is a big question mark as to what the international community is going to do, he said. The problem is internal but the Syrian people must be able to attain their legitimate rights, said the Arab League leader.
"We in the Arab League have already tried to handle it, within the Arab House, and we could not," said el-Araby.
Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis remained non-committal on the issue, saying only that Cyprus is 'instrumental' in persuading the EU to engage with Russia and China and that she is gratified that things are moving in that direction.
No Ceasefire in Syria
Asked about the suspension of the UN observer mission in Syria, Dr El Araby said that “the mission was suspended on the basis of recommendation by Commander Gen. Robert Mood. Because the observers were threatened and under attack and you could not allow them to go on the streets”.
He said that the mission was to verify the ceasefire and then to supervise the ceasefire, however, there was no ceasefire achieved.
El-Araby said he has put forward a proposal to the Security Council and to the General Assembly for the mandate of the mission to change in order to become a peace-keeping force.
The Arab League expelled Syria from its membership after the deaths of thousands of protesters against President Bashar al-Assad. Christofias' former close relations with Assad have become an embarassment and a dilemma to the government, torn between its close relations to Russia - the Syrian government's ally - and its EU membership. The EU is outraged at the deaths of civilians in the country and is in the process of tightening sanctions on Assad.
Cyprus suffered a tragedy directly linked with Syria after high explosives confiscated en route to to the country from Iran detonated at a naval base, killing 13. The president has been blamed for failing to destroy the munitions, which he promised to return to Assad after apologising for confiscating them.
Palestinian situation 'totally unacceptable'
Dr El Araby said that during his meeting with Marcoullis, they also discussed the Palestinian issue and the present situation, describing it as “totally unacceptable, under any circumstances”.
As he said, the Palestinians are suffering in every way, adding: “The Quartet was established by the Security Council to get things moving, but nothing is moving, on the contrary there is a complete stalemate. And what is expected now is that the Palestinians, with no doubt, will be going to the international community.”
Dr el-Araby further noted that the whole Palestinian question began on 2nd April, 1947, when Britain took the Palestine question to the United Nations General Assembly to find what would be the future of Palestine.
“Sixty five years later we do not know the future of Palestine. So, it is time that something should happen there. I deliberately do not use the word peace process because there is no peace process, there is a process going on and those who are involved in it try to give the illusion that they are managing the conflict, when nothing is happening and no conflict is being resolved,” he said.
Meanwhile, two 17-year-old Palestinians were killed by an Israeli air attack in Gaza today. Israeli armed forces claimed they were a group of terrorists about to set an explosive device along the security fence in the central part of the Gaza Strip.
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