The Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis represented the Republic of Cyprus at the first International Conference of the Syrian People’s Group of Friends, which was held on 24 February in Tunis, Tunisia. Participating at the Conference were more than 60 countries and representatives of international organisations such as the Arab League, the European Union, the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the African Union.
The aim of the Conference was the processing of a coordinated plan of action to address the crisis in Syria, ending the violence carried out by the Syrian regime for almost a year, which caused so far the deaths of more than 7.5 thousand people. The Syrian People’s Group of Friends, on the basis of the Presidency conclusions adopted, reaffirmed its firm commitment to the sovereignty, independence, national unity and territorial integrity of Syria. It fully supports the action plan of the Arab League, which provides, inter alia, for a political transition in the country, depending with which government and opposition they agree to form a national unity government, while President Assad transfers the power and elections are held at a reasonable period of time.
For this purpose, it was decided to increase pressure on the Syrian regime with the adoption of further sanctions, while support to the Syrian opposition was deemed necessary. All the opposition powers will have to unite their actions around the Syrian National Council, which participated at the Conference and which was acknowledged as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The serious situation in Syria imposed the need for the creation of a fund to provide humanitarian assistance and medical treatment, while the appointment of Mr Kofi Annan as Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League to the country was welcomed.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, in her intervention during the Conference, referred to the special symbolism of this Conference, which is held in the country from which the Arab Spring started. The solution to the crisis in Syria, the Minister said, can only be political and not military, since any military intervention will cause unaccountable consequences not only to the country itself, but to the whole region, which is still going through an especially turbulent period. The Arab League is doing important work to address the Syrian crisis and must maintain its leading role for its resolution it, the Minister noted. Cyprus, she said, supports finding a solution that will be based on democracy, absolute respect for the human rights of all the people of Syria, for democracy and the rule of law.