SOCHI (Russia) (Sputnik) – Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov spoke about the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue, noting that the date of the event, as well as the venue where it will be held, remain unknown.
"We are not the organizers. We will just provide assistance, if necessary," he said.
The idea of creating the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue in Sochi was initially proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the annual Valdai Discussion Club. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later explained that the Congress is aimed at expanding the circle of participants in the political settlement process in Syria, and address issues regarding the future Syrian constitution and parliamentary and presidential elections.
So far, the Russian Foreign Ministry has published on its website a list of the 33 organizations which had been invited to participate in the Congress. A number of opposition groups, including the Syrian National Coalition, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), and the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front, have spoken out against participating in the Congress, calling it an attempt to circumvent the issue of political transition and the settlement process held within the Geneva intra-Syrian talks.
Akbik also said that those who refuse to go to Sochi do not know the difficulties that millions of Syrians are facing, being in need of assistance.
The Congress is expected to be held on November 18, and to bring together a vast number of the opposition and pro-governmental forces, as well as representatives of all Syria's ethnic and religious groups.
According to Sergei Lavrov, the event will, in fact, be the first attempt to implement UN Security Council resolution 2254, which obliged the world community to fully assist the parties of the Syrian conflict in establishing an internal interethnic dialogue.