Donors Mull Marshall Plan for Post-Conflict Syriaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Diplomats from nearly 60 countries discussed Thursday a plan drafted by Germany and the United Arab Emirates to try to avoid a total collapse of Syria's economy in the face of 14 months of bloodshed.
The Working Group on Economic Recovery and Development of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People began talks in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on a rescue plan for a post-conflict Syria similar to the Marshall Plan implemented in post-World War II Europe.
"It is a good time already to start now for a long-term perspective of the country once change comes in Syria. And we are convinced it will come," the group's German co-chairman, Clemens Von Goetze, said.
The international community and Syrians must be "well prepared" and the international community must make its "plans for donor coordination" and prepare "plans together with the Syrian opposition," Goetze told AFP.
Change in Syria must come through "a political process," he said, adding that the working group fully supported the peace plan brokered by U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan which was supposed to begin with a ceasefire from April 12 but which has been broken daily.
One of the Syrian opposition delegates to the working group, Farah Attasi, said a principal goal of the project was to prepare for "rebuilding the Syrian state" following a change of government.
It is aimed at "attracting the silent sectors in Syria which did not completely join or which are still hesitant in supporting the revolt," Attasi told Agence France Presse.
"These sectors have still not joined strikes and sit-ins which form pressure factors" on the government of President Bashar al-Assad. "We want to reassure these people that they are part of the structure of this nation."
The working group sets as its aim to "rebuild and develop the Syrian economy and concentrate on the state institutions to create a roadmap such as a Marshall Plan, whether the (exiled opposition) Syrian National Council takes over or there is a peaceful transfer of power."
Representatives of more than 60 countries as well as the Arab League, the European Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United Nations Development Program took part in the one-day meeting.
"The future of Syria must be determined by the Syrian people," said a statement from the working group, affirming its commitment to "stand firmly by them until their rightful and legitimate aspirations are fulfilled."
The panel was set up at the second meeting of the Friends of Syria group formed by Arab and Western governments which was held in Istanbul early last month.
More than 12,600 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against Assad's rule erupted in March last year drawing a deadly crackdown from the authorities, according to human rights groups.
The violence and the resulting Western sanctions have had a drastic impact on the Syrian economy. Tourism has been decimated and the government says oil revenues have been slashed by nearly $4 billion.