One of the main issues has been who to invite to talks which not only aim to discuss governance, constitutional change and the holding of elections in the war-torn country, but also address the implementation of a lasting ceasefire to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.
“I’ve been very much aware of the danger of what happened in Geneva II, so that’s why I’ve been and am particularly careful about the issue of invitations,” explained de Mistura, whose UN Security Council mandate also calls for the broadest inclusion of opposition factions.
“The first priority will be the focus of the talks, of what most, if not all Syrians, want to hear: the possibility of a broad ceasefire and the possibility of stopping the threat of ISIL, and therefore thanks to a broad ceasefire, an increase of humanitarian aid,” the diplomat explained.
“We are being careful and extremely thorough in wanting to make sure that when and if we start, we start at least on the right foot,” he said, adding that “we are going to aim at proximity talks, starting on Jan. 29 and ongoing for six months on a staggered chronological proximity approach.”
De Mistura said invitations to Syrian parties are to be sent as early as tomorrow in view of finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis, which has been raging since 2011, as soon as possible.
Despite risks and tensions, the special envoy iterated that no preconditions will be set and that given the situations and taking into account past setbacks, the time has come to produce results.
“This is not Geneva III, this is leading to what we hope will be a Geneva success story if we are able to push it forward,” he concluded.
The first stages of the talks are expected to last between two to three weeks.