The Syrian constitutional committee held its first meeting in Geneva on Wednesday, with representatives from the Assad regime, the opposition and civil society under the auspices of the United Nations.
The opening session included speeches from the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, and the regime side’s president of the constitutional committee, Ahmad Kuzbari, as well as the opposition side’s president, Hadi al-Bahra.
Agreeing to a political solution
The speeches of the three parties during the opening session appeared to be less tense and did not include accusations traded between regime and opposition representatives. They both focused on the need to begin a new political era in Syria through discussion of the Syrian constitution and the success of the constitutional committee’s work.
In his opening speech Pedersen said that he would make efforts to facilitate the committee’s work and to ensure that it continued. He said that Syria’s future constitution would be written by Syrians alone and no one else.
He added: “The views of all Syrians should be taken to amend the 2012 constitution or to draft a new constitution in order to move towards a new horizon of peace.”
Kazbari said that the committee’s meetings would provide an entryway to a political solution in the country, and said that, “The Syrian people hold the exclusive right to determine their future and to choose their social, economic and political system.”
He added: “Our discussion today, in order to be successful, must be Syrian-Syrian, without any foreign pressure or intervention.”
The opposition committee head, Hadi al-Bahra, said that the constitutional committee was a first step towards a political solution to the Syrian crisis. He added: “We came here determined to discuss our similarities rather than our differences.” He said that over the last eight years, 65 percent of Syria’s infrastructure had been destroyed.
He added: “Certainly, the task ahead of us is hard, and it is just the starting point on the path to recovery.” He added: “The time has come to realize that victory is in achieving justice and peace, and not in one side triumphing over the other.”
Main meetings begin on Monday
The Syrian constitutional committee—comprised of 150 members representing the regime, opposition and civil society equally—had its opening session on Wednesday, with the main work beginning next Monday.
It is expected that another session will be held on Saturday to exchange views, while the committee’s work will begin officially on Nov. 4, 2019, after forming a small committee comprised of 45 members representing the three parties equally and including a more detailed discussion of the foundations of the work, according to the RIA Novosti agency.
The United Nations announced on Sept. 23, 2019, that the committee had been formed, after 20 months of failure to form it. It had been proposed during the Syrian Dialogue Conference held in the Russian city of Sochi in January 2018.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.