Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Vladimir Safronkov at the UN Security Council meeting on Syria
Thank you, Mr. President,
At the outset let me express appreciation to you for your efforts as President of the Security Council and to the Kuwaiti team.
We thank Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Mr. Pedersen for the report. Mr. Pedersen, we share the assessments that you presented. We support efforts you make to achieve sustainable settlement in Syria. It is of principal importance that you, Mr. Pedersen, have established and maintained standing constructive dialogue with all the engaged sides, and aim at rapprochement of positions both in the regional and global dimensions.
Russia has been taking robust action to promote political process and restore trust between the key stakeholders in Syria and around it. We maintain intense interaction with our partners in the framework of Astana format – Iran and Turkey. At the same time, we stay in lasting contact with the Special Envoy and work in coordination with the Syrian Government and the opposition.
On 25 June, Head of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria Maj.Gen. Alexey Bakin presented to the Security Council a thorough report on the military and political situation in Syria. We believe this report was rather useful and informative. It contained exhaustive answers to many of the questions asked in the Security Council. One just needs to study the report carefully.
During his presentation, the Russian representative paid specific attention to the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone. It can hardly be denied that militants from 'Hayat Tahrir al-Sham' – ‘Nusra’ as a matter of fact – do not stop provocative attacks on the positions of the Syrian Armed Forces, the civil population, and Russian air-base ‘Khmeimim’. To demand from us to stay idle in this situation would be unfair, to say the least. Besides, the Russian general confirmed that all military operations target only terrorist facilities identified as such by intelligence data. We inflict no damage on civil population and humanitarian facilities.
We have concerns about attempts of Nusra to transform into moderate opposition, however, we all know too well that ‘disguise’ by far does not mean “drop terrorist stance’. The essence remains, and our fight against terrorist organizations – those that the Security Council – all of us – unanimously agreed to list among terrorists – must be continued. Astana guarantors are firmly committed to implement their obligations about stabilization in Idlib. To that end, we have active cooperation with Syria, Iran, and Turkey. It was us who negotiated and signed the Sochi Memorandum, and now we carefully implement it. Instead of demanding from us to comply with the provisions that we ourselves drafted and endorsed, you should better join the counter-terrorist action. This would become a real contribution to the Syrian settlement.
We are very much alarmed by the situation in the North-East of Syria. Stability and security in this region can only be achieved given respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, rejection of separatist plans that undermine national security of Syria and its neighbor countries. It is quite puzzling that for one thing, everybody wants us to give more information and details on current developments in Syria, but for another – when we invite a representative who is deployed in the country and solves vital tasks related to national reconciliation, his report is doubted. By the way, it had been doubted even before it was actually presented. By whom? By people, whose countries illegally occupy Syria, violate its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Hopefully, soon we will have a breakthrough in terms of launching the Constitutional Committee. In the recent days, Russian representatives have held intense consultations with both Syrian authorities and the opposition, as well as with other involved stakeholders. The strategic goal remains unchanged: launch full-fledged political process in Geneva under UN auspices, your auspices, Mr.Pederson, and on the basis of UN Security Council resolution 2254.
I underscore – despite inflated environment that is sometimes, e.g. at this meeting of the Security Council, created deliberately, we remain optimistic regarding prospective developments in the Syrian Arab Republic. We remain optimistic, because we act in full compliance with the international law. We are present in Syria upon request of the legitimate government. It is self-evident, that as the situation in Syria tends to normalize, major terrorist hotbeds are eliminated and the country gets back to peaceful life, what comes to the forefront is issues of post-conflict recovery and humanitarian assistance.
Humanitarian aid should be provided to all Syrians throughout the country without any preconditions. What is important is to assist in restoring Syria; such action should abide by the international humanitarian law and be carried out in a neutral, unbiased and unprejudiced manner, in collaboration with central authorities. We should work on developing conditions for and facilitation of safe and voluntarily return of refugees and IDPs to places of their permanent residence in Syria. In any case, the report by the Russian general contained detailed information about this. Once again, I invite everyone to study it thoughtfully.
Let me one more time call upon everyone to abandon – once and for all – unilateral sanctions that can only exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Syria. It is the civil population that suffers therefrom. It is mainly due to these restrictions that Syria experiences serious problems, including in the area of healthcare and energy.
Russia will continue to provide comprehensive support to Syria regarding restoration of infrastructure and humanitarian deliveries both bilaterally and via international mechanisms, including those that are part of the UN system.
We repeatedly emphasize that Syria has been and will remain one of the key States in the Middle East, it is an inalienable part of the Arab world. It cannot be purposefully torn out of the regional context for the sake of someone’s narrow specific interests. In this regard, we advocate the soonest return of Damascus to the ‘Arab family’. This will help to restore, normalize and improve inter-Arab relations and the situation in the region. By the way, this is a natural and objective process that goes on despite external counter-action.
It has long become time for many of our colleagues to revise the outdated approaches to the Syrian problem. History defied those approaches. One should give up such instruments as pressure and isolation, and attempts to openly flirt with illegal armed groups. These groups can easily change their loyalty, and they have no disdain even for cooperation with outright terrorists. Has history failed to teach any lessons? Just have a look at how external interventions have shattered statehood in a number of Arab countries and what it all ended in.
We call upon all those interested in bringing peace back to Syria to joint our efforts in a constructive manner. We will be able to end war, focus on political process and national reconciliation that Mr.Pedersen is actively engaged in. Together we will be capable of protecting the rights of minorities, including Christians, who have lived in the Middle East for many hundred years.
The situation in the Middle East requires a comprehensive approach. Establishing of international cooperation implies rejection of escalation policies and transfer from confrontation to dialogue and cooperation. I stress, that this is true for Syria, Iran, and other countries of the region.
Thank you, Mr. President.