By Ria Novosti
The international group Friends of Syria recognized on Sunday the oppositional Syrian National Council as the “sole representative of the Syrian people.”
The group also supported the UN-backed Annan plan of negotiating an end to a bloody standoff in Syria, where more than 9,000, according to United Nations’ estimates, were killed in clashes between the government and the opposition since March 2011.
But the resolution passed at the Friends of Syria congress in Istanbul calls the Annan plan “a chance, not an endless process,” an apparent reference to allegations that the government of Bashar al-Assad could use the UN-mediated ceasefire to regroup and prepare a new crackdown on its opponents, the leading among which is the Syrian Free Army military group, run by the Istanbul-based Syrian National Council.
Kofi Annan, UN’s special envoy to Syria, has proposed a six-point plan that includes implementing UN-supervised ceasefire, ensuring nationwide access to humanitarian aid in Syria, releasing political prisoners, upholding freedoms of movement and association and advancing political process in the country. The plan was backed by Damascus.
The 27-item resolution passed by Friends of Syria also stresses the need to uphold Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Some opponents of Assad have previously advocated a military intervention in the country and backed armed Syrian opposition, whom official Damascus calls terrorists.
Friends of Syria also established two working groups developing sanctions against and economic support measures for Syria, respectively, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Istanbul. The sanctions group will hold its first meeting in Paris later in April.
The Friends of Syria conference was attended by representatives of 83 countries, according to organizers. Among countries to snub the event were Russia and China, main international backers of Assad’s regime.