Russia has proposed a special type of autonomy for Syrian Kurds

Protest demonstration for Syrian Kurds in Derik. November 2012

Photo: Reuters/Pixstream

Passed in opposition to the draft Constitution of Syria provides for the granting Kurds cultural autonomy with enhanced powers, the text of the document transmitted by RBC

Extended cultural autonomy

A source in the Syrian opposition, on 26 January, RBK has provided a draft Constitution of Syria, which was transferred to the Russian side the delegations of the Syrian armed opposition and the government on the talks in Astana. A day earlier, RBC managed to get acquainted with a full version of the Russian proposals, but with a set of proposed amendments to the main law of the country.

Document the work of professionals who know the situation in Syria transferred to the government and the armed opposition, “which has real power,” says the interlocutor of RBC in the opposition. The draft Constitution will be discussed by all parties and political groups, said a source. “This will be the benchmark for all parties to the conflict. The main thing is to quickly end the bloodshed”, — said the source.

The full text of the document referred to the establishment in Syria of a Kurdish cultural autonomy, the status of which is determined by a separate law. A source in the Syrian opposition notes that the subject of the fourth article of the first Chapter of the document, the autonomy of the Kurds can have their own authorities. In this article it is written that “state bodies and organizations of the Kurdish cultural autonomy are Arabic and Kurdish language as an equivalent”.

In the current 2012 Constitution, Syria is no point of cultural autonomy of the Kurds. In the draft amendments transmitted by RBC January 25, another source close to the delegation of the armed opposition at the talks in Astana, said that the Kurds may be given autonomy.

The wording of the state bodies of Kurdish cultural autonomy “is a significant political move” on the part of the authors of the draft Constitution, said RBC head of the Center for economic and political reforms Nikolay Mironov. “This is not an abstract promise, but a serious bid for autonomy. For the Kurds it will become an important argument for reflection. Their maximum program — the creation of the state, but autonomy will perform a program of at least. The question remains, what rights will be registered at the authority in special laws. On these points can be negotiable and room for maneuver,” — says the expert.

In Russia there are national-cultural autonomy, but their status is not spelled out in the Constitution and in some Federal law.

The President can go for a second term

Transferred to RBC in January 26, the text also says Syrian President may be re-elected for a second seven-year term. Previously, on 25 January, the source of “Interfax” in opposition reported that the presidential powers are to be limited to one term. This was transferred to RBC earlier amendments.

It is proposed to change the official name of the country from the current Syrian Arab Republic to the Syrian Republic. Removes the requirement for the President to be Muslim. In the new version of the presidential oath the President must strive for unity of the Arab nation, and to act in the interests of the Syrian people.

According to the document, the candidate on a post of the President of the Republic, as in the current Constitution of the country must be aged at least 40 years of age and have Syrian citizenship. However, the draft of the new Constitution abolished the conditions under which the parents of the candidate must also “have Syrian nationality by birth”, and that the candidate should not be married to a woman not Syrian nationality.

A new system of power

Syria also offers a new way to organize the system of legislative bodies to create the Assembly areas in the preservation of Parliament (people’s Assembly). The Russian draft abolishes the existing system of quota places membership in Parliament, according to which half of the seats allocated to workers and peasants, and other representatives of other social categories.

The Assembly of the territories, according to the Russian proposals, should have the right to appoint judges of the Supreme constitutional court.

For the posts of Deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers are encouraged to appoint people taking into account the proportional representation of all ethnic and religious groups of Syria’s population and consolidate the separate posts for ethnic and religious minorities. Assign them to be President.

A separate provision of the Constitution condemns terrorism in all its manifestations.

In the present embodiment, new prescribed role of the armed forces of Syria. If in the current Constitution, the Armed forces and the army only protecting the territorial integrity and security of the country, in the present embodiment also indicates that they should not be used “as the oppression of the Syrian population” and should not invade the sphere of political interests and play a role in the process of transfer of power.

Offer, not pressure

Russian ideas about the Constitution of Syria are an invitation to discussion on the issue, said Thursday evening the official representative of the foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova.

However, as announced on Thursday morning Bloobmerg, the Syrian opposition rejected the draft Constitution proposed by Russia during negotiations in Astana. “We told them [the Russian] that the only one who has the right to write the Constitution of Syria is the Syrian people. The experience of Paul Bremer in Iraq (he was the Plenipotentiary representative of President George W. Bush in Iraq in 2003-2004. — RBC) is quite revealing: when the Constitution was written in another country, it won’t work”, — said the Agency member of the delegation of the rebels at the talks, Yahya al-Aridi during a telephone conversation.

With the participation of Angelica Bassini and Vladimir Dergacheva

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