Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Remarks by Deputy Permanent Representative Vladimir Safronkov at the Briefing by Director of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy Mr.Maxim Grigoriev

Thank you so much for coming. I would like to express my gratitude to our expert Mr. Maxim Grigoriev who will be laying down our view on the topic.

Even despite our discussions in the Security Council, people have inclination to forget the very important element of Syrian chemical demilitarization dimension.

Let me remind: all this process of chemical demilitarization of Syria started in 2013 in Russian-American agreement in Geneva between Minister Lavrov and Secretary Kerry. Then it took form of resolution 2118 which is a unique historic achievement of collective efforts on chemical demilitarization of Syria. As a result of this unique process 99% of chemical weapons of Syria were destroyed and became a model for technical discussions between Syrian government and OPCW.

Then this positive trend deteriorated, and this dossier was used by some of our partners to achieve geopolitical goals, it was used against the Syrian government. We have encountered many of the details many times before. Chemical dossier - more than anything else - required a professional specified expert approach. There is no place for politicization of this crucial issue. We have to be very specific and very professional. We motivated our position on the subject by that arguments last year as well. We did so especially when we discussed JIM reports and other conclusions. So this issue requires a very professional approach, and I hope that Mr. Grigoriev will lay down our view on that very important issue. 

In response to remarks of a representative of the Iran Mission to the UN:

As a professional, I am actually far from getting back to history, but we have to remember what was the high cost of a technical mistake on Iraqi WMD. I am saying that it cost us the Iraqi statehood. It was a mistake which we have been trying to overcome for many years – in vain, by the way. Then don’t be bothered with our details here. We are here not to impose on you our will, we just want to share conclusions, because as any details of any Middle East conflict, this dossier requires very professional international cooperation. It relates to history, but it also relates to the present, because in wasting so much time trying to crystalize who is wrong and who is right we are running a real risk to let terrorists do their job. Now it’s already around the world – I don’t want to mention countries with so many victims.

At a time when even Western intelligence community brings us to conclusion that terrorists already have a technology to produce a chemical weapon, we have to be very careful. When JIM was created – by the Russian Federation and the United States - we told the JIM leadership – ‘you have a chance to rectify the image and reputation of International Investigative Bodies. In what sense? To make it professional, objective, impartial, purely technical’. Unfortunately, the results were the opposite. And we know what followed. So idea is to present  this alternative point of view – it’s a way forward to launch a real cooperation, remembering the high cost of technical mistake leading to wrong painful and tragic political decisions. Thank you so much.

In response to a remark by a representative of the U.S. Mission to the UN :

Frankly speaking this briefing was conceived not to provoke a hyper emotional reaction. This briefing was conceived as a forum to share a view on what is going on with the chemical dossier. Professional approach requires to take everything into account, to analyze and to present arguments. It is exactly what the idea of Maxim coming to New York and briefing us was. It seems, this professional exchange of alternative points of view could open the way for professional findings on chemical weapon dossier in Syria.

Another point my American colleague mentioned - the JIM was established by all of us. That is right. Initiated by Russia and the United States, then endorsed by the Security Council. That is right. But the methodology used by this structure, unfortunately, undermined all conceivable criteria of professional investigations. Again, our view, all conceivable contagion. Even, as I mentioned many times in our deliberation in the Security Council undermine the golden standard of western investigation process, which is presumption of innocence.

Imagine a situation: A policeman comes into a US Court to present a case. The court-marshal asks him: "Sir, have you visited the crime scene?". Imagine the reaction of the Court if the policeman answers: “No, I did not visit the crime scene".

The same here. All our reproaches to methodology process, remote investigation, no visiting crime scenes, very problematic witnesses. So, again. Our view. FFM and Syria is a bilateral meeting between Syrian government and OPCW Technical Secretariat. That is important. That is a bilateral understanding.

So I don’t want to get into this more deliberation explanation mood, so, please, your questions.

In response to a remark by a representative of the Turkish Mission to the UN:

Thank you all so much and the Turkish delegate as well. Just to shed light on what is going on in the real professional field: Now we are getting ready for 12th Meeting of Astana Guarantors which will take place tomorrow with the participation of our Turkish partners and Iranian partners. We always used to and now we still are inviting a United States Representative to come over and join us to make our discussion more productive. Of course, we have invited representatives of the Syrian Government and the Syrian opposition to Nur-Sultan, which is the main value of this format. Our discussion will take place thanks to kind contribution – both political and logistical of the Government of Kazakhstan. We will search for a real strategy to find an exit from the Syrian crisis. 

Dear colleagues, the Syrian conflict is any conflict in crisis. Both its genesis and its history have been very troublesome and painful first of all for the Syrian people. But I’m sure, based on the experience that we collected here in New York while working to resolve many conflicts, all of us, the entire P5, will be working to keep Syrian statehood strong. We understand what it means. We look at Libya, Yemen, other countries, and we see what it actually means to loose state institutions. However I believe in the better, my vision is more positive. We have not been able to unite – but it is never too late to unite, to get in cooperation with parties involved, to work together on chemical weapons problem, to find the truth in our controversial assessments. We have different views, but at the same time we have channels, contacts, dialogue. So the picture is not so blurry. So we aspire - as the bureaucratic language says -  to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank you so much for you  active participation in our event.