Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the UN Security Council Meeting on Syria
We welcome Mr.G.Pedersen at his first briefing at the Security Council, we thank you for the report. We share many of the assessments that you expressed. We believe one of the key words of your speech was – “need to restore the lost confidence”, not only inside Syria, but around it as well, the confidence of all the stakeholders who have to do with Syria.
We welcome the commitment of Special Envoy to maintain intense contacts with the parties to the Syrian conflict and major stakeholders who take effort to settle the situation in Syria. This is key to the success of any mediator. We believe it is crucial to have normal operational dialogue with Damascus, which should be part of all the events aimed to galvanize political process and stabilize the situation in the country. This also applies to the Brussels Conference to be held in March.
On February 22, there was a visit of Mr.Pedersen to Moscow, where he had meaningful talks with Foreign Minister S.Lavrov and Defense Minister S.Shoygu. We believe that this meeting, and follow-up talks of Special Envoy with Russian representatives, including Deputy Foreign Minister S.Vershinin and Special Representative of the President for Syria S.Lavrentiev, helped us overcome the unfortunate (and somewhat artificially created) incident that took place in December and affected the establishment of Constitutional Committee. Together with Special Envoy and our Astana partners – Turkey and Iran – we continue our work to finalize the modalities of this mechanism that will be established according to SC Resolution 2254 and decisions made by the Congress of Syrian National Dialogue. We expect that this mechanism will soon be launched.
We cannot fail to mention the constructive input of our partners from Turkey and Iran at the “Astana process”. Their contribution helped change the situation in Syria, ensure real ceasefire at the major part of the territory, and start the direct dialogue between the Government and the armed opposition.
We reckon that soon the “Astana troika” will develop mutually acceptable solutions for “Idlib de-escalation zone” and the North-East of SAR in the spirit of the understanding that was reached at the trilateral leaders’ summit of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Sochi on February 14. It goes without saying, that we will be fully respectful of the position of the Syrian government.
We will be working step by step in order to reach our goals, among which – eradicate “terrorism breeding ground” in Idlib and protect the civil population. The situation at the North-West of Syria which is controlled by the militants from “Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham”cannot be frozen forever. Those who urged to remain idle have to understand this.
Let me remind, that nobody wanted to spare ISIS and freeze the situation in Hajin or Rakka. By the way, there were numerous casualties among the civilians. In this regard, we cannot but welcome the words – or rather a recognition – of the distinguished US representative, that fight against terrorism should not be an excuse to destroy the civil population.
We would like to point out that apart from de-escalation and political issues, “Astana” platform discusses such an important confidence-building measure for the opposing sides as exchange of prisoners. Special Envoy mentioned it today. The exchanges that took place in November 2018 and February 2019, though they were not large-scale ones, give hope for progress on this track.
All these measures facilitate the stabilization in Syria. Another important track of international cooperation is rebuilding the devastated infrastructure and launching the mining action. On February 21, the Government of Russia issued a decision to allocate funds to UNMAS budget to assist mining action in SAR. We call for our colleagues to join these efforts.
Let me say on behalf of the “Astana” troika: We stand ready to cooperate with all the interested sides who genuinely – and this is important – wish to foster stabilization and promote political settlement in Syria, including the so called “Small Group on Syria”. Four-lateral summit in Istanbul in October 2018 made a significant contribution to the “bridge-building” process.
We highlight, that the situation in Syria has changed for the better. Many realize what has changed. We take notice of positive steps by the regional states who want to improve their relations with Damascus. We believe that economic cooperation and engagement in restoring Syria’s national economy will speed up this process.
We hope that commitment of Arab countries to fully restore their relations with Syria and get Syria back to the “Arab family” will sustain the process of Syrian settlement in accordance with the principles of international law and the UN Charter.
Russia, as a member nation of the “Astana troika” is ready to continue cooperation with Special Envoy in returning peace to Syria. Mr. Pedersen, you can count on our collaboration.