Syria: Vienna Conference Final Statement
an article by International Peace Initiative for Syria
Video: Syria: Vienna Conference
Syrians coming from most diverse social, educational, political and national backgrounds have gathered on March 8th and 9th in the Castle of Schlaining, Austria, in the framework of an “All Sides Consultation for a Political Solution in Syria” organized by the International Peace Initiative for Syria.
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Driven by deep worries about the deteriorating developments, the disastrous humanitarian situation and the future of the Syrian people, the All Sides Consultation has been searching for what can be done, by means of a political solution, to stop the war, the violation of human rights causing a huge number of victims, the destruction of infrastructure and culture. This solution should help the Syrians to find a new social contract for the construction of a State based on comprehensive national reconciliation and accountability, guaranteeing the rights and freedom for all Syrians.
Recognizing the immense complexity of the situation and the increasing suffering and polarization, following points emerged as consensual during our deliberations. As conveners we are formulating them in the spirit of the discussions:
1- Based on the principle of the sovereignty of the Syrian people we call for cease fires by all participants of the war and demand all non-Syrian armed forces to leave the Syrian territories.
2- We appeal to stop the war, emphasizing that a political solution is the best solution for all participants. This solution implies guaranteeing for everybody basic political, economic and social rights leading towards social justice and the release of political prisoners and hostages from all sides.
3- We want to search for realistic and practical methods and procedures in order to realize an “All side’s peace conference” which includes all Syrian parts involved in this crisis.
4- We will work on all levels in order to satisfy the urgent and necessary needs of the civilians including safe delivery of human aid.
5- Particularly we will work on bringing back the refugees and emigrants to Syria and to find ways of providing them with the necessary means of living in regions that are safe from war and military activities.
6- To work on finding a space that can be used as a center for the peace process and where a constant and open dialogue can take place. This will be named “The Syrian House of Peace.”
7- We will constitute a Network for Peace in Syria including both, Syrians of all walks of live as well as non-Syrians, supporting a political solution.
Furthermore following issues and positions have been discussed without reaching consensus and therefore need to be referred to a next conference:
The way how to find a just and comprehensive solution for the Kurdish question in order to guarantee equal civil rights while maintaining the unity of the Syrian people and State?
In which way equal rights between women and men can be established guaranteeing full rights for women?
Question(s) related to this article:
How can there be a political solution to the war in Syria?,
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In the following article, Wilhelm Langthaler, a Co-convener of PeaceinSyria.org comments on the spirit emerging from the “All Sides Consultation for Political Solution” in Vienna.
Now that the “All sides Consultation for a Political Solution in Syria” is accomplished and is being recognized by all the participants as a success that deserves continuation, the time has come to draw a balance not only of the conference itself, but also of its wider significance. The very fact that around two dozen people from the most diverse and conflicting backgrounds of Syrian society came together and consulted how to overcome the civil war tearing apart the country is extraordinary. But the spirit emerging from the debates reaches far beyond the objective of this single event, giving hope that a movement for a political solution is gaining momentum.
Exchange among the people – not power-brokering
First of all, let us recall the aim of the “All Sides Consultation for a Political Solution” which took place in the “Peace Castle Schlaining” close to Vienna, Austria, from 7-10 March, 2014. The idea was to give a voice to Syrian society in its full diversity, voices emerging from the people who have been silenced and excluded by the powerful. It was not intended to hold negotiations between the conflicting sides and their global and regional sponsors as has failed in Geneva. A consultative forum of personalities not directly representing the sides involved but indeed representing the societal richness was called upon to explore ways to stop the catastrophic bloodshed.
Thus we were not in search of sophisticated and well-balanced formulae of compromise pleasing the foreign powers involved (something which might, however, be necessary to reach in other places), but to give answers concerning how the full rights of the people might be guaranteed. The quest for these rights is what is thought to have sparked the conflict and is at the same time key to ending what has turned into a fratricidal war pitting the components of society against the other, a conflict additionally fuelled by massive international involvement. As Naser al Ghazali, one of the Syrian members of the preparatory committee hailing from Daraa, put it in his introduction: “Democratic rights are not negotiable. . ...more.