Exiled Syrians meeting in Berlin have compiled a strategy paper for a "post-Assad" era in Syria. Fighting continued in Damascus on Tuesday as more civilians fled toward Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
The paper entitled 'The Day After' was released in Berlin on Tuesday by a group of 45 Syrians who described themselves as former army generals, economists and lawyers from ethnic groups and the main opposition Syrian National Council. They had consulted within six teams since early 2012.
The exiles' paper endorses universal human rights and democratic principles. It proposes that should the government of President Bashar Assad topple, a political assembly should quickly be formed with the goal of establishing a constitution.
The plan also foresees reforms of Syria's army and security agencies, independent courts, the closure of secret jails, and the dropping of a new constitution instituted by Assad early this year. The paper contains no timetable for Assad's departure.
The authors of the paper demand that a new political leadership must clearly renounce Syria's "authoritarian legacy" and create a transitional legal framework that guarantees equal rights to all Syrians. An old Syrian constitution from 1950 could serve this purpose.
Think-tank backs talks
The Berlin talks were held under the auspices of a prominent German think-tank, the Foundation for Science and Politics (SWP), with funding from Switzerland, the US and two non-governmental organizations in The Netherlands and Norway. The German Foreign Office had provided participants with entry visas.
Monday's presentation follow a declaration on Monday by French President Francois Hollande who said France would recognize a provisional government. He warned of foreign intervention if Assad's regime resorted to chemical weapons.
Syria's foreign minister Walid Muallem - in an interview published by Britain's Independent newspaper on Tuesday - accused the US of encouraging rebels by supplying them with telecommunications equipment.
"We believe that the US is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments," Muallem said.
Fighting continues, Refugee problem worsens
In Damascus on Tuesday, Assad's forces reportedly pounded parts of the capital's eastern neighborhoods after rebels claimed to have shot down an army helicopter on Monday.
Refugees in Lebanon said they had fled Damascus after only recently returning to the capital, which troops claimed to have brought under control.
The United Nations UNHCR refugee agency said Syrians were also flooding toward Jordan. The Al Zaatri refugee camp was sheltering 10,000, more than double the number compared to recent days.
Turkey says it too is struggling to accommodate Syrians in eight tent camps, a container settlement and other forms of shelter including schools. Turkey has taken in more than 70,000, with thousands more converging on its border.
The German non governmental organization Pro-Asylum has demanded a Europe-wide intake of Syrian refugees. Its director Günter Burkhardt urged German authorities to speed up applications for entry submitted by Syrian relatives already in Germany.
Burkhardt said in the first six months of this year, 1,623 Syrians had applied for asylum in Germany. He added that 2,000 students living in Germany needed financial help because the conflict in Syria had cut off money transfers from home.
ipj/msh (epd, Reuters, AFP, dpa)