UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (C) delivers a speech at the end of a plenary session at the Congress of Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi on January 30, 2018. (REUTERS PHOTO)
MOSCOW, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The widely-anticipated Syrian National Dialogue Congress held in the Russian city of Sochi saw its delegates reach consensus on a series of principles for achieving a political settlement in Syria, including plans for a constitutional reform, the final statement of the congress said Tuesday.
Attended by over 1,500 delegates of the Syrian government and the opposition, the congress concluded late Tuesday after nine hours of negotiations, covering topics on how to put an end to the seven-year civil war, possible amendments to the constitution and post-war reconstruction.
"We all share the same goal: to see peace and stability restored in our homeland and to live peacefully side by side free from violence and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," delegates of the congress said in a joint address published by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
To that end, the delegates agreed on 12 principles that lay the foundation of a political settlement in Syria, concerning sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-intervention, autonomous right, equality, national unity, public reform, military building, combating terrorism, human rights, national identity, eliminating poverty and heritage preservation, according to the final statement.
The document underlined that Syria remains committed to recovering all lost ground "by lawful means in accordance with the UN Charter and international law" and taking "its full role" in the international and regional community.
"The Syrian people alone shall determine the future of their country by democratic means... in line with Syria's international rights and obligations," the statement said.
In particular, based on the consensus of the delegates, a constitutional committee dedicated to promoting a constitutional reform was created at the congress, which consists of the Syrian government delegation and the widely-represented opposition delegation.
According to Russia's special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, participants of the congress agreed on a list of 150 candidacies for the constitutional committee.
"Care would be taken to ensure adequate representation of Syria's ethnic and religious components," the statement said.
It added that a final agreement is expected to be reached in the UN-led Geneva process on the mandate and terms of reference, powers, rules of procedure, and selection criteria for the composition of the constitutional committee.
UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura pledged following the talks that the Syrian peace talks in Geneva would pick up the progress achieved during the Sochi congress and set an efficient schedule for drafting the new constitution "because Syria cannot wait."
Russian experts also said that the congress will stimulate the long-running reconciliation process on Syria in Geneva.
"The Geneva talks will receive a boost after the Sochi congress and will be promoted. I'm confident that the decision on whether the congress should be held on a regular basis and whether it will continue or not should be taken during consultations with our partners," head of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vitaly Naumkin was quoted as saying by Tass news agency.
Seen as a new platform for direct dialogue with the aim to address the Syrian crisis, the Syrian National Dialogue Congress was aimed at facilitating negotiations between all segments of the Syrian society, including its political and civil powers as well as ethnic, religious and social groups.
Representatives from various countries and international organizations were also invited as observers of the congress. Russia, Iran and Turkey, guarantors of a Syrian cease-fire regime, were organizers of the congress.