Russia President Vladimir Putin (C), European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (R), and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy (L) attend a press conference after a Russia-EU summit in Strelna, outside Saint Petersburg, on June 4.
The European Union and Russia have agreed that United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan provides the best chance to resolve the crisis in Syria.
“The European Union and Russia might have some diverging assessments, but we fully agree that the Annan plan as a whole provides the best opportunity to break the cycle of violence in Syria,” European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said at a press conference after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Strelna, outside Saint Petersburg, on Monday, RIA Novosti reported.
“We need to combine our efforts in order for this to happen, and to find common messages on which we agree,” he added.
Russia blames all sides and says both the government and the opposition must cooperate to resolve the issue. In addition, Moscow insists that dialogue is the best solution and advocates the peace plan drafted by the UN-Arab League envoy.
Western countries also back Annan's plan but have not ruled out military action.
Annan’s six-point plan, effective from mid-April, calls for the establishment of a cease-fire between the government and the opposition and also says humanitarian groups should be allowed to have access to the population, detainees should be released, and a political dialogue should be started.
The unrest in Syria began in March 2011, with demonstrations being held both against and in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.
The West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of killing protesters, but Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, insisting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.