The “Friends of Syria” conference where more than a hundred government delegates have gatrhered including Greece, US, Britain, France and Gulf countries in the Moroccan city of Marrakech as rebels intensify their push on Damascus.
A draft declaration at the meeting states that the members of the Friends of the Syrian People bloc were prepared to recognise the opposition coalition as “the legitimate representative of the Syrian people”. It also called on President Asad to “stand aside” in order to allow “a sustainable political transition” process.
France, Britain, Turkey and the Gulf states have already granted the oppositon formal recognition. The European Union, in a meeting on Monday, moved a step closer towards recognition. The EU currently recognises the coalition as “legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people,” which falls short of recognising it outright as a potential successor government.
Greek foreign minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos has also traveled to Morocco to attend the conference according to an announcement by the ministry of foreign affairs. Mr. Avramopoulos in a recent statement reiterated Greece’s firm stance in favor of the pursuit of a political solution and the opening of a dialogue that will enable the Syrian people to decide on their future. He stressed the need for an immediate stop to the hostilities and the importance of protecting the rights and security of all the Syrian communities, making express reference to Syria’s Christian population and Greek Orthodox community, in light of the latter’s recent loss of their spiritual leader.
Meanwhile, a day before the conference in Morocco, Barack Obama, the US president, announced that his government would be recognising the coalition as Syria’s “legitimate representative” mounting pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In an interview on ABC news Obama announced that, “We’ve made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.” It’s a big step,” Obama added.
His announcement stopped short of authorising the US to supply weapons to the opposition, however.
According to Al Jazeera, fighting has intensified in recent days, with rebels claiming they have taken over a large military base near the city of Aleppo, and both sides trading mortar and artillery fire in southern Damascus.