Syria: Opposition in Istanbul - friends call for unity

Italian envoy Massari: Necessary to respect minorities

15 June, 19:52

(ANSAmed) - ANKARA, JUNE 15 - ''In the name of Minister Giulio Terzi, I have brought a message of solidarity and an invitation to unify to promote political transition, stressing the importance of the criteria of inclusiveness and respect for minorities''. Italy's special envoy for the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Maurizio Massari, is taking part, along with delegates from another eleven countries in the Friends of Syria group, in a two-day meeting with various Syrian opposition groups in Istanbul.

Attending the meeting are the National Syrian Council (which has just appointed Syrian exile of Kurd origin Abdel Basset Sieda as its Chair to replace the controversial Burhan Ghaliun), the National Kurd Council (CNK), the group chaired by tribal leader Nawaf al Bashir and the movement led by the intellectual Michel Kilo.

The Friends of Syria group, in its diplomatic summit held in Istanbul ten days ago, was already pressing for the unification of the various opposition groups which have till now been divided on religious lines as well as by differing strategic approaches. ''The people are fighting because they want a democratic country: they want freedom, not to sustain Bashar al Assad with Sieda or Ghaliun'' explained the leader of the nationalist opposition group Ammar Qurabi.

Events following their uprisings in other countries of the so-called ''Arab Spring'' adds to feelings of mistrust. A unified opposition is considered by many observers as a condition for Western governments to agree on more substantial aid in economic terms in with arms, as the Syrian opposition forces are requesting.(ANSAmed).

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