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UNITED NATIONS - Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Thursday Moscow opposes any attempt to seat the Syrian opposition as the representative of Damascus in the world organization.
The statement was made by Churkin, Russia's permanent representative to the UN, who has been serving as the president of the Security Council this month, in answering a reporter's question about a possible motion the Arab League might bring forward to advocate the opposition taking up a seat at the United Nations. The Arab League has recognized the Syrian opposition as the sole representative of Syria.
"We will oppose it. We'll oppose it very strongly," Churkin said, quickly adding, "But you know I don't think it is going to happen because I think that most of the members of the UN are responsible members of the United Nations. They value this institution and they understand that if something of this sort were to happen that would really undercut the standing of the United Nations."
He explained that the world organization is an intergovernmental organization and "You do not simply seat opposition groups who have gone through no proper process of legitimization."
Any representative has to be the legitimate representative of that country, said the ambassador from Russia, a member of the UN credentials committee.
Earlier this week, Sheik Moaz al-Khatib, Syria's opposition coalition leader, formally took the vacant seat of Damascus at an Arab League summit in Dubai.
Churkin said the Arab League move "creates all sorts of problems for the role of the AL" and Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint AL-UN special envoy for Syria.
"I think it's clear that the AL basically has taken itself off our joint efforts, joint efforts by the international community -- at least those who believe in the need to stop violence as quickly as possible and to work for a political settlement in Syria," Churkin said.
"I believe they have undercut the efforts of Lakhdar Brahimi as a joint AL-UN representative," the Russian ambassador said. "So, it's a very unfortunate new development which damages the stand of the AL in the case of the Syrian crisis and in fact they are beginning to act more and more as a negative rather than positive force."
"You can't have a situation when you have problems with a certain country and simply appoint somebody to become ambassador .. to become ambassador of that country," he said. "Of course you can do that. You can have tea with him every day but that does not mean that you are really dealing with that country."