Dutch institute trains opposition in negotiation techniques
December 17, 2013
GETTING TO YES: A delegation from the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) attends a training course in diplomatic negotiations at the Netherland’s Clingendael Academy as the exiled leaders prepare to meet the Syrian government on January 22nd in Geneva.
“I strongly believe in your goals…you will find The Netherlands at your side in striving for this,” said Frans Timmermans, the Netherland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. The ministry developed the training program.
“We know that there are very experienced diplomats on the side of Assad,” Timmermans told attendees, adding that he hoped the training would help opposition members achieve greater parity with the regime at the negotiating table.
The few dozen Syrian opposition members in attendance welcomed the opportunity. “We need this help in our negotiations with the regime,” said participant Bader Jamous, the General Secretary of the SNC.
The Western-backed SNC has agreed to attend the Geneva II conference for a political solution to the Syrian conflict, but insists any negotiations be based upon President Bashar al-Assad’s departure. Al-Assad and his government have insisted the president will not relinquish power.
“The participants were challenged to enlarge their experience in diplomatic processes and to sharpen their negotiation skills,” Trainer Wilbur Perlot said from The Hague.
“I have seen your ambitions to find peaceful solution,” Timmermans told the opposition figures. “Make sure that what you learned here can contribute successfully to the opposition at the negotiation table,” he added.
Most armed opposition groups inside Syria have refused to support Geneva II. More mainstream groups like the Free Syrian Army, which has coordinated with the SNC, have been weakened by the emergence of Islamist umbrella organizations such as the Islamist Front.