BEIRUT: MP Walid Jumblatt endorsed Friday the Geneva plan reached among major powers to end the crisis in Syria and said Russia was willing to assist in resolving the growing refugee crisis in Lebanon.
The Geneva plan is the basis for an end to the crisis in Lebanon’s neighbor, Jumblatt told LBCI following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
The Geneva Plan, reached among major powers in June of last year, stipulates a cease-fire and the formation of a transitional government to oversee parliamentary and presidential elections. It does not, however, refer to President Bashar Assad's departure which is a key demand by the opposition.
Following the uprising in Lebanon’s neighbor, Jumblatt repeatedly called for the departure of Assad and urged Syria’s Druze to join the revolt against the government. He has also been very critical Moscow, Assad’s strongest supporters.
So far, the Druze and members of other minorities have been reluctant to join the uprising, fearing that a post-Assad Syria could result in an Islamist rule.
Jumblatt, who has led the small Druze community in Lebanon since his father’s assassination in 1977, has asked the international community to do more to end the bloodshed that has killed some 60,000 Syrians.
During his last visit to Damascus in late 2012, U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi made references to the Geneva plan but no tangible results have emerged.
Earlier in the month, Assad, in a rare public speech, put forward his own “peace initiative” in which there would be a Syrian army cease-fire on condition that rebel groups halt hostilities. During the speech at the Damascus Opera House, Assad also rallied Syrians to mobilize for a war to defend the state against what he described “a puppet made by the West.”
According to Al-Anbaa newspaper’s website, Jumblatt also praised Russia’s “vision” for a solution to the Syria crisis as “positive.”
However, “how can it be implemented?" the lawmaker asked.
He added that it was necessary for international leaders to agree on the principles that would govern a solution in the troubled country.
Describing the situation in Syria as complicated, Jumblatt said he would discuss the outcome of his Moscow meetings with his friends in the opposition.
He voiced also expressed hope that Russia would participate in the U.N. conference on Syrian refugees in Kuwait on Jan. 30.
During his chat with LBCI, Jumblatt brought up the issue of the growing Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon and said Moscow was willing to help.
“Russia voiced its readiness to resolve the issue of Syrian refugees financially and politically,” he told the Lebanese television station.
The U.N. estimates that the number of refugees in host countries could reach 1 million while in Lebanon alone the number has surpassed 200,000.
The U.N. appealed last year in Geneva for $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid to cope with the crisis in Syria.
Lebanon says it needs $180 million annually to cope with the rising demand of the refugees.
Speaking of Lebanon's current political deadlock, Jumblatt reiterated his position that intra-party dialogue was the only option to resolve the crisis.