Press conference «Syria: way to peace»

Yelena Agapova, deputy chairman of the IOPS:

Syria is part of the Holy Land. And, unfortunately, this land is now turned into a military training ground, where in March 2011 nearly 94,000 Syrians were killed. These are the latest UN figures. The flames of war continue to run high. Total destruction of the country's economy, its infrastructure, the foundations of a great spiritual and cultural heritage, a traditionally strong spirit of religious tolerance is going on. Syria is experiencing a terrible humanitarian disaster. And it is enhanced by escalation of violence, including on ethnic and religious grounds. The conflict in particular affects Christians. We are seeing a mass exodus of Christians from Syria. They are subject to brutal violence, forced from their places of historic residence and are in a mess. As we can see, the supply of arms is growing, as well as the number of foreign fighters, religious fanatics like such terrorist groups as "Dzhabha al-Nusra ", which has been particularly cruel to religious minorities, including women and children. 

In April this year I had a meeting with the Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin al Hasun, who is convinced that without the traditional presence of Christians in Syria, Muslims cannot live in this country. The Supreme Leader of Syria openly opposed the mass exodus of Christians from Syria, which is destroying the centuries-old inter-religious balance not only in Syria but throughout the volatile Middle East region. He calls the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X his brother. And he says that the extremists are now seeking to give the conflict a religious coloring. But the Syrians themselves do not want any dissension on the basis of religion. Following this meeting, the idea was born of a second conference in Geneva with top Syrian spiritual leaders - the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X and the Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin al Hasun. The Mufti agreed to participate in our conference. Then we turned to the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, John X, who also supported the idea of holding a conference with the participation of religious leaders in the walls of the UN Council on Human Rights, on the site of the Russian non-governmental organization. And such a conference was supported by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, who was also informed of our plans. 

At our invitation the conference was attended by Syrian religious leaders and community representatives, including the courageous Catholic nun, abbess of St. James monastery in Kara in Syria, who presented in Geneva documentary evidence of events taking place in Syria. From these documents it is known that the one who is now fuelling the flames of war, committing atrocities and violence on Syrian soil, came to Syria not just for world order and democracy, as it is now trying hard to be taught around the world. What kind of democracy is it, if the people of Syria are not allowed to determine the future of the country, if everything is done so as not to start a peaceful dialogue and lead to the failure of the international conference on a peace settlement in Syria, which is promoted by Russia?