Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Vitaly I. Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, during the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East

I did not intend to speak here today, as it seems to me that resolution 2336 (2016), which we have just adopted, speaks for itself. But as all members of the Security Council have spoken it would probably be odd, to say the least, if one of the sponsors of the resolution and a member of the Council simply stayed silent. This would probably be seen as perhaps not endorsing or approving of what has been said by my colleagues. Far be it from this.

As I take the floor, the natural first step is to thank all of the members of the Council for voting in favour of the resolution we elaborated together with the Turkish delegation. We would like to individually thank the delegation of Turkey for its very substantive contribution to the work on the resolution.

All of us know that this has been a very difficult year — a year which comes to an end in our capital in only two and a half hours. It was very difficult from the point of view of the work of the Security Council on a Syrian settlement, but the fact that we are concluding this year by unanimously adopting two such resolutions means that if all of us together look together at certain objectives rather than attempt to gain self-interested benefit, then we are able to make important decisions.

During this year, as all of us will recall, a number of very serious efforts were undertaken to achieve a radical improvement in the settlement of the Syrian crisis. All of us remember the numerous meetings of our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, and the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, always leading to serious agreements that, for reasons that I am not going to go into now, unfortunately remained unfulfilled. At the end of this year, the Russian Federation and Turkey, alongside the Syrian Government, in contact with opposition groups, took it upon themselves to reach a number of very important agreements that were enshrined in the documents published on 29 December and which were then circulated as an official document of the Security Council.

This is a very important initiative. The resolution adopted by us today speaks to the need to comply with a cessation of hostilities regime in Syria and to the very important meeting in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, which, in Astana, in just two and a half hours, will become a member of the Security Council. At that meeting, delegations of the opposition and the Government will for the first time meet face to face, all of this in the context of efforts that have been undertaken under the Security Council’s mandate pursuant to resolutions 2254 (2015) and 2268 (2016) and other very well-known documents. All of this is enshrined in the resolution adopted here today. It is very important indeed that the Security Council today backed these efforts made by Russia and Turkey.

I do not wish to level criticisms today, but I would like to delicately convey to my colleagues that this is a very complicated process. Everything we achieve is the result of enormous effort, so let us be clear. I urge members to help us, and if they cannot or do not want to help then I urge them not to complicate things, cast doubt on the agreements reached or attempt to reinterpret them in some way. I would ask them not to simply repeat outdated clichés ad infinitum. Some representatives have been repeating the same clichés for six years now, despite the fact that it achieves nothing. That is not helpful. We must work very seriously to ensure that, in 2017, we are able to achieve a political settlement to the crisis in Syria. We are convinced that if the international community is guided by the objective of upholding the interests of the Syrian people and restoring stability in the region as a whole, then we can achieve success.

My last comment is an expression of gratitude to the Council members who are leaving us today, including the delegation of Spain, which during this long difficult month of 31 days has carried out duties that are coming to an end almost at midnight on the very last day.