In an interview with the Syrian Sama TV channel, Russian diplomat Maria Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva said that U.N. Special Envoy for the Syria Crisis Staffan de Mistura had "committed several mistakes" during the preparations for the Geneva III Conference. "To this day, de Mistura refused to accept the delegation of the opposition coming from inside Syria," said Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva, the spokeswoman for the Russian Diplomatic Delegation to Geneva, in the interview, which aired on February 7, 2016. "This is a grave mistake, and we hope it is rectified before the talks resume," she said.
Following are excerpts:
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De Mistura "Committed Several Mistakes"
Maria Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva: "Before the talks are resumed, de Mistura must resolve some problems pertaining to these talks. First of all, he should resolve the problem of Kurdish representation. The Kurds are an inseparable part of Syrian society, and unless the Kurds participate in the talks, it will be impossible to reach a decision on any article on the agenda, including the issues of a ceasefire, of combating terrorism, and so on. During the preparations for the Geneva III Conference, de Mistura has committed several mistakes, including his refraining from forming an opposition delegation, which would represent the entire spectrum of the opposition.
"To this day, de Mistura refuses to accept the delegation of the opposition coming from inside Syria, and consisting of people who did not leave their homeland. This is a grave mistake, and we hope it is rectified before the talks resume. The fundamental reason for the suspension of the talks is the withdrawal of Riyadh's opposition delegation from the talks, and its insistence on its preconditions. and its insistence on its preconditions. It is important to note that this contradicts U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254, which states that there must not be any preconditions. The government delegation came to Geneva at the scheduled time, and was ready to discuss all the articles on the agenda, which is very good...
"The Russian airforce takes part in the anti-terrorism operations in Syria, in accordance with the request of the legitimate Syrian government, and with the Security Council resolution about combating terrorism. The demand made by the Riyadh delegation to stop the anti-terrorism operations of the Syrian army, which are conducted with the support of the Russian airforce... I would like to ask: Who fights the Syrian army in Aleppo? It is the Al-Nusra Front and some armed factions connected with Al-Qaeda. My question is: For whom do they seek help in Aleppo?...
"We denounce any attempt to isolate Syria and its diplomats from any conferences held for the sake of Syria. Let me give you an example. At the UN headquarters in Geneva, conferences are held about humanitarian aid to Syria and about bringing aid into Syrian cities, without the presence of Syrian diplomats in these conferences. This is neither productive nor realistic. This is peculiar. How can we discuss bringing humanitarian aid into city A or city B, without the presence of Syrian diplomats?"