Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Dialogue the only solution

By Wu Sike (China Daily) Updated: 2012-03-05 08:10

Dialogue the only solution

External interference will only ignite new contradictions and further aggravate the already strained situation in Syria

Nearly one year has passed since the Syrian unrest began fermenting, and the international community has not yet found a solution to the crisis that can satisfy all the relevant parties.

But I believe that all those who really seek peace and stability for the Syrian people have reached an agreement that this can only be achieved by finding a political solution as soon as possible.

I have been dealing with affairs in the Middle East for more than 40 years, and have worked and lived in Syria for about four years. Not only have the honest and kind-hearted Syrian people and splendid natural scenery impressed me, but also Syria's unique and vital geostrategic position.

Syria, which is located in a strategically important region of the Eurasian continent and has complex entanglements with other states in the Middle East, in terms of ethnic identity, religion and ideology, has always been known as the "heart of the Middle East". Any significant changes in Syria will affect the regional situation as a whole. That "there can be no peace without Syria" in the Middle East has been historically proven.

Therefore, when the "heart of the Middle East" developed an arrhythmia it immediately claimed the attention of the international community who were quick to offer their own prescriptions for its ailment.

But the Syrian crisis should be treated with extreme caution. In order to safeguard the fundamental and long-term interests of the Syrian people and maintain peace and stability in Syria and the Middle East as a whole, we should seek a political settlement to the crisis.

The most pressing task is an immediate end to all violence. Violence devours human reason and leads to civilian casualties. Counter-violence will only create a vicious cycle, resulting in more casualties and damage. There is no time to waste in ending the violence otherwise it will be impossible to find a political solution.

The international community should urge all parties, including the Syrian government and the opposition forces, to exercise restraint and express their political will in non-violent ways, rather than fanning the flames of conflict.

They should also pay close attention to humanitarian situation in Syria. But the humanitarian issues should not be politicized, nor used as a pretext for military intervention. If safety can be guaranteed, it is feasible for a neutral organization acceptable to all parties to conduct an objective, comprehensive assessment on the ground and establish a delivery and distribution mechanism for humanitarian aid. The United Nations and related agencies, which have experience in this regard, can assume a leading and coordinating role.

Of course, in order to realize a political solution, it is essential to get to the root cause of the Syrian crisis, which means promoting political dialogue between the relevant parties, and speeding up political reform so that the people's desire for change and development can be realized.

Neither the Syrian government nor the opposition should boycott the dialogue and neither should be excluded from the dialogue. Only a solution agreed upon by all the relevant parties in Syria will truly reflect the wishes of the Syrian people and be recognized and accepted by them.

Any political solution should not be at the cost of Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity. The Syrian people have a long history and splendid civilization. There is no doubt that they have the capability and wisdom to resolve the current crisis and find a development path suitable to their national conditions.

Syria's future should be, and can only be, determined by the Syrian people. The international community can provide necessary assistance, but it should not exceed its duties and wantonly interfere in Syrian affairs. External interference will only ignite new contradictions, and further aggravate the already strained situation. Lessons drawn from the experiences of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya serve as a reminder of this. As a good friend of Syria and all Arab countries, China attaches great importance to the concerns of the Syrian and Arab peoples, and commits itself to realizing an early political solution to the Syrian crisis and maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East.

China is fully aware of its responsibilities and does not seek to protect any party, but is willing to strengthen communication with all parties and continue playing a constructive role in achieving a political solution.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China always firmly maintains the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations and seeks to safeguard the fundamental and long-term interests of developing countries.

As China's special envoy to the Middle East, I understand how complex and sensitive the Syrian issue is, but I also know that there are many people of insight there who understand and praise China's stance.

History will eventually prove that a political solution for the Syrian crisis is the only solution. China's unremitting efforts to this end will stand the test of time.

The author is China's special envoy to the Middle East.

(China Daily 03/05/2012 page9)

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