The British government’s envoy for the Syrian opposition, John Wilkes has confirmed the U.K. hopes to secure a date for the Geneva II conference as soon as possible.
In an interview with al-Hayat, Wilkes said London rejected Iran's participation in the conference, because it has not announced any agreement to form a transitional government in Syria with full authority.
Wilkes said that the conference would be "a negotiation process" that may last a few months to form a government that manages the affairs of the country in the next two years, saying that the option is "either the Geneva conference or dividing the country in to parts, with the establishment of an Alawite state and a Kurdish one".
Wilkes was speaking after his return from a visit to Istanbul, where he met the General Commissionof the Syrian National Coalition before touring the region.
“The continuation of the war will not lead to the victory of one party over another, but to the continuous deterioration in the humanitarian situation and the destruction of infrastructure in the country and dividing it,” Wilkes said.
“This is happening now. Some of Syria is in the hands of the regime and some in the hands of the opposition. We do not expect significant changes in the military and strategic situation."
“So we came to a military conclusion… that I why we want to focus now on keeping Syria as it is, with its current borders and preserve the state and avoid the chaos and division of the country, and avoid the suffering of the people."
"The continuation of this war of attrition,” Wilkes said, “would have obvious implications for the Syrian people and the countries in the region, like the spread of extremism. Al-Qaeda is a big problem for the region and the world. So we do not see any benefit in continuing the war more years, and must launch the process of negotiations on the basis of Geneva 1 to form a transitional government from the opposition and the regime with full authority and agreement between the parties ".
“We do not see any alternative to preserve the unity of Syria and its territory.”
In response to a question regarding how London encourages the United Nations, the Americans, the Russians and the Syrian parties to agree on a date for Geneva II and its declaration as soon as possible, Wilkes said: "Geneva is a process, not only a conference or a meeting. Let's start the process and agree on the basic things and understandings in the conference".
He said that two delegations, one from the regime and the other from the opposition, will attend Geneva, adding that “we do not want several delegations."
He noted that the "Kurdish National Council has joined the Coalition, also adding that the opposition delegation “will include representatives of the armed groups, and that negotiations are being conducted with the National Coordination Commission for Democratic Change in order to be part of the delegation."
But the British official admitted there are "ambiguities and doubts" about the role of the Kurdish Democratic Union led by Saleh Muslim and "its relationship with the regime, versus its bad relationship with the opposition and the Coalition” describing it as lacking a clear position towards the Syrian revolution.
“There are indications that it will cooperate with the opposition, but there are not any positive steps .Now we have a concern about the declaration of a Kurdish transitional administration, and there was no coordination with us or with the Coalition," Wilkes said.
He also noted that the administration's declaration came after the Coalition's declaration of the formation of an interim government, which "left the impression that it is trying to undermine the project of the Coalition and we do not accept this".
“According to my government's evidence, if the Democratic Union wants to participate in Geneva conference, it is better to join the regime's delegation. The same applies to the former Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil and the Minister of Reconciliation Ali Haider.”
He explained that those "are closer to the regime and must be within its delegation.”
He reiterated that London believes that the key solution in Syria is the formation of a transitional government with full authority.
"We do not have relations or a direct dialogue with the regime, but we sit down with businessmen who have ties to all parties".
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer