Statement by The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB), 15 January 2014
Statement to the Syrian people
The Paris-based international and regional meetings have ended in the last few days emphasising the need to hold the Geneva Conference about Syria on the scheduled date, 22 January 2014. Everyone has called the Syrian National Coalition to meet the call for this Conference, yet the United States and Britain has threatened to cut their aid in the event of the Coalition deciding not to attend. The United Nations and both State sponsors - the Russian Federation and the United States - demanded that the Coalition form a balanced delegation of the Syrian opposition in Geneva under the umbrella of the Coalition. The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria - NCB was informed of this on 13 January 2014 on receiving a copy of the letter of invitation that was addressed to the President of the Syrian National Coalition. There has also been a lot of Arab and International contact.
It is fact that everyone knows that the party commissioned to work for the formation of the opposition delegation has not yet made decisions; all factions of the Syrian opposition now face a fait accompli and were asked today to do what they can to make a success of this difficult and complicated task in the four days between the decision of the Coalition and the opening of the Conference.
Holding a conference that decides the fate of the People, the Country and the State in this way cannot be described as serious, except if the international decision is the sole master of the situation. What is required of us as Syrians is to obey the will of the international in a scenario has been prepared in advance to determine our destiny.
We will not shorten the explanation of what is happening in a plot that allows the American sponsor to form the Syrian opposition delegation at their own discretion and according to their own interests. The problem is much bigger. The State sponsors of the first Geneva Conference were not acting with urgency for 18 months and more while the Syrian people lost more than 80,000 victims, with the additional destruction of the infrastructure estimated to cost more than two hundred billion dollars, the displacement of millions of Syrians inside and outside the country, and the entry of in excess of 50,000 non-Syrian fighters to both camps whether they came to protect the regime or for a “jihadist” project far from the ambitions and aspirations of the Syrian people. Most of the signatory States to the Declaration of Geneva have been involved one way or another, in the process of destruction, devastation and tearing of the national and societal fabric, and arming and funding of parties to the conflict in broad daylight.
The overwhelming majority of our people have arrived at an inhumane situation in the biggest disaster since the end of World War II, and it is necessary to put an end to this calamity. For this, we find the real majority of Syrian society calling for an end to what is happening today and for the restoration of the right to hope of salvation.
But we say to the children of the proud Syrian people, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice: “We will not accept on your behalf and for our future the exploitation of the tragic situation of Syrian society in order to pass any solutions at the expense of the National Democrat project which was behind the coming out of hundreds of thousands of Syrians in all provinces and all groups demanding riddance of corruption and tyranny. We will not be party to any international consensus that is harnessing the Syrian tragedy in the sharing of roles and the game of nations.”
The NCB accepted the Geneva Declaration a few days after its release, and considered it to be the first assembled UN resolution on the Syrian issue that could have international support and real guarantees, offering constructive criticism to ensure the success of the International Conference for Syria - Geneva 2, contacting the permanent Member States of the Security Council and most of the Arab and regional States to win the support for a political solution. And how hard the struggle was those days when we were shouting in the desert and many parties considered our position to be theoretical and idealistic. Until the situation and events pushed people who thought about the virtues of the Syrian war of attrition to fear the spread of the flames and the gravity of the seriousness of its reflection, and the regional and international dangerous consequences, then we began to feel a sense of seriousness about the need to reach an effective political solution acceptable to the majority of Syrians and regional and international powers, and more efforts were condensed in order to hold the Conference.
We communicate regularly with the sponsoring parties, we listened to their views and they listened to our proposals. We felt the need for positive interaction in order to ensure the success of the Conference. It is not just important to hold the Conference, but it is important that this conference responds to the needs of the existence of the country and the citizen. With our emphasis on the rejection of the preconditions for the Conference, we considered that providing the appropriate atmosphere is a confident confirmation of a serious conference: the release of women, children and patients in prisons; facilitate relief operations and help each area of Syria under siege; lifting the European and American food and medicine sanctions on Syria; the release of abducted people; and lifting the travel and movement bans for all Syrians.
We have demanded that the co-States sponsors and the United Nations recognise the need to adopt the principle of commitment to the agreements resulting from the negotiations, and the presence of international guarantees for the negotiations and commitment to the agreements. The NCB prepared a draft resolution to the Security Council that recognises that all non-Syrian fighters are outside of international legitimacy.
The NCB struggled for the provision of normality which required the existence of a wide incubator-society supporting the political process. It also initiated contacts and responded to each of the contacts in order to form a balanced, strong and convincing delegation of the Syrian opposition. The points of agreement with a large number of political figures and friendly organisations were crystallized in the roadmap of the NCB that seeks a preliminary meeting of the Syrian opposition with the aim of a joint programme and one delegation, and a strong and effective voice.
Demands of the NCB and other democratic organisations to provide a positive environment for the success of the conference was not dealt with seriously, and the internal problems of the Coalition led to the suspension of the recent decision to participate in the Geneva Conference, and here we are a few days away from the Conference in a case of general ambiguity leading us as national opposition to be the weaker party in this Conference.
There is no doubt that the Russian and American sides bear a heavy responsibility in the current situation. The Russian party did not take any mentioned effort in order that the Syrian regime takes positive steps towards Syrian society, and waivered at the first occasion from a triangular-headed configuration of the Syrian opposition delegation - the National Coordination Body, the National Coalition, the Kurdish Supreme Council - leaving for the American party the task of reducing the opposition voice and its delegation, including those who are located in its orbit. Also, the American party was not keen on having a balanced and persuasive representative of the opposition, as “the Geneva Declaration” demands.
How could the Syrian opposition have a one delegation and one solid programme which embraces popular support and the Coalition that is chosen by two sponsor States to be the representative of the Syrian People, when it has not yet decided to approve their attendance nor agreed on “Geneva I” - “Geneva Declaration” which Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s invitation provides as the basis for the Geneva II Conference? What should be done in the event of the dissolution of this architecture a few days before Geneva, and how do we get into the Conference when two of our delegation members are behind the bars - Abdul Aziz Al-Khayeer and Rajaa Al-Nasser - and other members are banned from traveling; is it possible to negotiate with a regime that does not stop the indiscriminate shelling by barrels on cities; can we consider that this war crime is one of the topics for bargaining and pressurising the government delegation ... all of these questions faces us with a responsible and difficult position, a position careful not to distort and weaken the image of the political solution and the Declaration of Geneva by its name and on this way.
We, the Executive Office of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria – NCB, decided to refuse to attend the Geneva Conference that is held on the basis of these conditions and information, and to take an initiative for consultative meetings with the largest number of political forces inside and outside Syria in order to hold a gathered National Democratic Syrian Conference, to restore the opposition’s position and role in the political process, and to form a force to defend the interests and aspirations of the Syrian people.
Long live free, democratic and civil Syria
Executive Office, Damascus, 15 January 2014