Russia says only UN can judge Annan's plan Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets with Morocco's counterpart Saadeddin al-Ot...
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets with Morocco's counterpart Saadeddin al-Othmani, not pictured, in Moscow on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Lavrov warned that only the U.N. Security Council has the authority to evaluate the fulfillment of Kofi Annan's cease-fire plan for Syria.(AP Photo/ Alexander Zemlianichenko)
MOSCOW — Russia's foreign minister warned Wednesday that the implementation of special envoy Kofi Annan's cease-fire plan for Syria can only be assessed by the United Nations.
Sergey Lavrov said that groups such as the Friends of Syria should have no say in evaluating the plan's performance.
Syrian forces have continued shelling opposition strongholds despite a pledge by President Bashar Assad's regime to respect a week-old cease-fire and withdraw troops from urban centers in line with Annan's plan, raising concerns that the truce will fail.
Lavrov accused the Syrian opposition forces of provoking the government's backlash in order to thwart the cease-fire plan. He urged all nations that have leverage with the opposition to force it to abide by the cease-fire.
"There must be a tough demand not to allow any provocations and respect the cease-fire," Lavrov told a news conference following talks with his Moroccan counterpart.
He warned that the Friends of Syria group, whom Moscow has repeatedly criticized, shouldn't be allowed to judge the observance of Annan's plan.
"We are worried by continuing attempts to 'privatize' Annan's plan and empower self-proclaimed structures such as the Friends of Syria with assessing its fulfillment," he said.
Lavrov also urged U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to speed up the deployment of a full-fledged observer mission in Syria.
Russia, along with China, have twice shielded the Syrian regime from international condemnation, but Moscow also has strongly supported the Annan plan and urged Assad to comply with it.