UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen (C), Syrian Constitutional Committee's Co-Chairs, Ahmad Kuzbari (L) from the Government, and Hadi Albahra (R) from the Opposition, attend the opening ceremony of the committee in Geneva, Switzerland, on Oct. 30, 2019. The Syrian Constitutional Committee made up of opposition, civil society and government delegations -- each with 50 members -- began its work here as scheduled on Wednesday. (Denis Balibouse/Pool via Xinhua)
GENEVA, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian Constitutional Committee made up of opposition, civil society and government delegations -- each with 50 members -- began its work here as scheduled on Wednesday.
The United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, together with the Committee's Co-Chairs, Ahmad Kuzbari from the Government and Hadi Albahra from the Opposition, launched the start of the Committee in an opening ceremony with the 150 members sitting for the first time in the same room inside the UN headquarters in Geneva.
Describing the event as a "historic moment," Pedersen encouraged the committee members to be patient, persistent and ready to compromise and to engage constructively.
"I know that it is not easy for all of you to be here together in this room, and I respect that. I know that there are deep feelings among you, reflecting the deep feelings among all Syrians after nearly nine years of violent conflict," he said.
"But the fact that you are here today sitting together face-to-face ready to start a dialogue and negotiations; this is a powerful sign of hope for Syrians everywhere, both inside and outside the country," he said.
The UN envoy told the committee members that it was his sincere hope that by feeling the good intentions from each other from the very beginning, trust and a positive working environment will be created.
He stressed that constitutional reform is "a good entry point" to heal the wounds suffered by the Syrian people, because the constitution concerns fundamental rights, political, cultural, social and economic rights, the rule of law and good governance.
The decision to establish the Syrian Constitutional Committee was adopted in Sochi, Russia, in January 2018.
Ahmad Kuzbari, the Committee's Co-Chair from the Government, said at the ceremony that the launching of the Committee is one of the "entry points" to the political process to solve the Syrian crisis, and the goal can only be achieved with a strong will and clear determination.
He stressed that the Syrian people are the sole and exclusive holders of the right to decide their future and choose social economic and political system for themselves.
"In order for our dialogue today to succeed, it must be exclusively intra-Syrian, free from any external pressure or interference, with full Syrian ownership and leadership and without any preconditions," he said.
Hadi Albahra, the Committee's Co-Chair from the Syrian Opposition, stressed at Wednesday's official convening of the Committee that the Syrians must go beyond their wounds and pain, and start listening to each other, understanding each other's fears and enhancing the commonalities among the parties.
"We are again meeting today hopeful to accomplish what we were unable to achieve in the past. We all know that the 150 people meeting today in this room have diverging opinions on many issues, but after more than eight painful years, we came here determined to look for similarities but not differences," he noted.
Saying that the Syria is facing an essential time, he said that the launching of the Committee is just the first step on the long path to recovery.
According to the UN arrangement, after Wednesday's opening ceremony, the Committee will begin its close-door discussions in the hope to pave the way for constitutional reforms and the related political process to the end the long-lasting crisis in the country.
After the first session of the 150-member Committee, a smaller drafting body of 45 -- evenly from the Syrian government, opposition and the civil society, will stay in Geneva to continue their work in details.