Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC meeting on the political and humanitarian situation in Syria
We thank Mr. Geir Pedersen and Ms. Joyce Msuya for their overview of the political and humanitarian situation in Syria.
We are convinced that long-term stability and security on Syrian soil can be established only through the full restoration of the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and an end to the illegal foreign military presence.
In this regard, we strongly condemn the ongoing air strikes carried out by the Israeli Air Force against various targets in Syria. This month alone, the Syrian port of Tartus has been repeatedly targeted duringIsraeli air raids, which lead to the death of Syrian military personnel. The occupation of part of the territory of Syria and the strikes on its territory by the United States amount to equally grave violations. The last such egregious incidents took place last week. The United States openly acknowledge it by publishing a corresponding letter to the Security Council. Such illegal and irresponsible actions are a flagrant violation of the fundamental norms of international law and must be stopped.
In addition to this factor, persistence of large-scale hubs of terrorists, who found refuge in the territories not controlled by Damascus in Idlib, Dayr Al-Zawar and At-Tanf, pose threats to the security of Syria and the entire region.
Against this background, we especially need to see progress on the track of the Syrian political settlement. In this context, we held extensive consultations in Moscow with Geir Pedersen, where we confirmed the need to pursue the direct inter-Syrian dialogue with the assistance of the UN within the framework of Security Council resolution 2254. We are interested to see progress in the Syrian settlement on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and decisions adopted at the 2018Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in Sochi. It is critical for the Constitutional Committee to work dynamically and, most importantly, under the most favorable conditions. This is not a bilateral problem, as our American colleague put it. We will continue to promote the work of the CC so that the Syrians themselves, without external interference, can come to an agreement on constitutional reform.
In this context, we would like to stress the importance of the Astana format, which proves its role as the most effective international mechanism to help achieve a long-term normalization of the situation in the SAR. By the end of the year, we expect to hold the next meeting in this format in Nur-Sultan.
As for the humanitarian dimension, we would like to point out that the UN begins to acknowledge the devastating impact of illegal Western sanctions on the development of the Syrian economy and note the rapidly deteriorating food security in the country. We are referring to the latest joint report by FAO and WFP enitiled Hunger Hotspots. We are concerned about the record low wheat harvest this year in Syria, reported by the UN. There is no need to explain the importance of bread in the diet of the Arab countries.
In the same vein, we would like to draw attention to the review Access to Electricity and Humanitarian Needs, where sanctions are also listed among the factors hindering the restoration of electrical power supply in Syria. With Security Council resolution 2642 expanding the scope of project activities to include provision of sustainable power supply to critical infrastructure, maintaining sanctions will undermine the UN's efforts to fulfill its humanitarian mandate. We believe that no one wants that.
It is obvious that without a fundamental solution to the urgent problem of sanctions against Damascus, there is a possibility that we will soon see the tragic consequences of the reckless actions of Western states protecting so-called liberal values using the example of Syria. Against this background, the public humanitarian concessions for areas not controlled by Damascus and the ongoing pillaging of Syria's agricultural and oil resources by the United States seem even more hypocritical. We see it as an attempt to preserve the fragmentation of the country.
As for cross-line humanitarian deliveries, we could not agree more with the Secretary General on the importance of stepping up such efforts in the context of Idlib. Indeed, as stated in the report of Antonio Guterres, similar aid to Dayr Al-Zawar has been delivered systematically over the past two years. This means that if the parties demonstrate good will, it is possible to supply all Syrian regions via intra-Syrian routes. This became completely clear after the closure of the Al-Yarubia crossing point, no matter the stories told by our colleagues about the supposedly tragic consequences of such a step. Reality proves the opposite.
We still expect to see tangible progress here in the coming six months. However, the information we receive that Hay’at Tahrir Ash-Sham militants are once again threatening to prevent Syrian students from leaving the Idlib de-escalation zone in order to continue their studies at universities on government territory raises fears that terrorists will continue to obstruct humanitarian work. We call on everyone to do their part to ensure that UN efforts to establish sustainable humanitarian supplies to Sarmada are not undermined. Today, the US representative frightened us with the prospect of cutting off cross-border aid. I would like to tell him that if our Western colleagues honestly implement the agreements of the resolution on the extension of cross-border assistance, they should not worry about extending.
We have great hopes for the first round of informal interactive dialogue coming in September and look forward to a frank and non-politicized discussion, as well as a substantive contribution from the UN. We noted with interest the updated information on project activities in Secretary-General’s report. Compared to the previous reporting period, the number of donor-funded early recovery projects has increased from 133 to 288. We would like to discuss this issue in detail in September.
We believe it is important to have a substantive discussion on the situation of Syrian refugees. They have become a heavy burden for host countries, which, among other things, have to endure the presence on their territory of former White Helmets, who have been recognized as radicals even in the West and whose Western patrons in the United States and Canada, despite earlier assurances, have in the end refused to take them in because their involvement in terrorism is too obvious.