Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Holy See participates at Geneva II

The Holy See’s representative at the Geneva II peace talks on Syria says real peace in the country may be challenging to achieve without Iran, one of the key powers in the region, participating in the discussion.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi is leading the Holy See delegation to the Geneva II summit, underway in Montreux, Switzerland. The foreign ministers at the summit are currently discussing the Geneva II document, which outlines a political transition plan for Syria.

Earlier this week, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon retracted his controversial invitation to Iran to the talks, eliciting mixed reaction from the international community.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Tomasi spoke on Iran’s absence from the talks.

Politics demands that certain decisions be made, said Archbishop Tomasi.

“We had to make some strange decisions,” he said. “In my opinion, it is not very realistic to try to have peace without one of the key powers in the region. But we hope that, with the discussions underway on (Iran’s) nuclear program, we can keep the door open a little, so as not to impede the dialogue that we are starting with Syria.”

Archbishop Tomasi said the absolute priority of the talks is to respond to the demand of the Syrian population to bring an end to the violence, death and destruction. About 130,000 people have died and entire villages have been destroyed, he noted.

“Faced with this reality, the international community is seeking to respond with a sense of solidarity to find “an acceptable compromise to begin effective negotiations,” said Archbishop Tomasi.

Face-to-face negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition, the first since the conflict began three years ago, will begin in Geneva on Friday.

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