04:44 GMT15 August 2020
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    Russia's draft of the Syrian constitution that Moscow circulated at the January 23-24 intra-Syrian talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, is a serious step towards the peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict and towards a consensus between Damascus and the so-called "moderate" opposition, Russian military expert Ivan Konovalov told Sputnik.

    At the January 23-24 intra-Syrian talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, Russia has proposed a draft to serve as a "guide" for the Syrian constitution, outlining that it will be the Syrians who draft the final version, taking into account proposals made by both the government and the opposition.

    RT channel has obtained a copy of the proposed document via an opposition source in Syria.

    Territorial integrity, the separation of political powers as well as respect for minority rights and international treaties are among the cornerstones of the draft.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow based its proposal on what it heard "from the [Syrian] government, from the opposition and from the countries of the region" over the past few years.

    In terms of sovereignty, the Russian proposal says that Syria "is united, inviolable and indivisible." Its territory is "inalienable" and the state borders can only be changed after a public referendum conducted "among all citizens of Syria."

    According to the draft Constitution, the executive branch of power in the country is represented by the President and his government. The President is elected by a public vote and can serve a maximum of two terms with seven years each. The People’s Assembly serves as a parliament, passing laws which later should be forwarded for approval to the Assembly of Territories and then to the President.

    It says the country’s leader can be stripped of his powers by the Assembly of Territories in case the People’s Assembly formally accuses the leader of committing "treason" or any other "severe crime."

    The highest part of the Judiciary is the Constitutional Court, which among others oversees the legality of laws, decrees and other forms of legislation.

    Commenting on the proposed document, Ivan Konovalov, a military expert and the director of the Center for the Study of Strategic Trends told Sputnik that the proposal should be looked at from two aspects: as yet another step towards peace in the war-torn country and as a principal law which will lay a basis of a practically new state.

    "On the whole, its clauses and provisions are very logical and reasonable. There is nothing contentious within it," the expert said.

    However he further noted that Moscow's initiative will have no influence on the radicals from Islamic State (Daesh) and al-Nusra Front, who are not interested in the settlement of the crisis and peaceful resolution of the conflict under any circumstances.

    Konovalov also noted that the draft is very timely, as it the first occasion when the Syrian government and the opposition field commanders have met face to face.

    "If we take into consideration that apart from Daesh and Al-Nusra there are about 200 thousand people confronting the state government, then the interests of about one third of them were represented in Astana. Thus it is very good that such a document was presented," he said.

    The expert added, that the referendum envisaged by the draft document, allows hoping that the maximum number of the interested parties will be involved in the reconstruction of the country.

    "The document does set the conditions for a referendum, which is of real need. This process should involve as many forces as possible, including international powers," he said.

    "Every Syrian should feel himself a participant of the reconstruction of his home country and demonstrate that he is not indifferent towards its future," Konovalov stated.

    In the separate comment on the issue, Stanislav Ivanov, a leading research fellow at Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) and the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) told Sputnik that negotiations in Astana became a turning point in the Syrian conflict.

    "The balance has not yet altered in favor of any side, however it stopped," he said at a round table discussion at Rossiya Segodnya agency.

    The political analyst explained that while the ceasefire provides for the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of Syrians allowing them to stay alive and well, then it comes as a huge achievement for the region.

    He further noted that the task of Russia and other countries participating in the peace process is to maintain the ceasefire as long as possible and to set conditions for further agreements of the sides to the conflict.

    The expert however expressed regret that there were no Kurdish representatives either in Geneva or Astana.

    "The Kurds however are the core of the country which has withstood the major attack of the Islamists and which has set forward the conditions for these negotiations," the expert said.

    He further noted that the Kurds remain neutral and are not fighting against either the government forces or the armed opposition, but only defend their enclaves.

    "Why not invite the Kurds as the third, neutral party in the negotiations and offer them to present their version of the constitution?" Ivanov questioned.

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    moderate opposition, draft, constitution, Astana talks on Syria, Daesh, Al-Nusra Front, Stanislav Ivanov, Ivan Konovalov, Kazakhstan, Syria, Russia, Astana
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