Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at a UN Security Council Briefing on Syria
We thank Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Geir Pedersen for his meaningful report. We listened with interest to your ideas about methodology of advancing Syria’s settlement. We also followed Ms. Rajaa Altalli.
Russia remains committed to the principle of peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis by political and diplomatic means. In order to promote this process under UN auspices, the Constitutional Committee was launched. Its establishment and start of operation on 30 October in Geneva, to which the “Astana format” has contributed a lot, is an indisputable accomplishment of the people of Syria.
As Special Envoy stated earlier, no one was expecting the work of the Committee to be easy. The two parties first sat down at the negotiation table, where they are to talk about the future of their country, the future that should account for the interests of all elements of the Syrian community. This is a responsible and difficult task. At the second round of dialogue in Geneva the sides tried to agree on major approaches to further work. We hope those contradictions that they discovered will help them better prepare for the next session.
We believe it counter-productive to over-dramatize the situation and pinpoint those who should be blamed. We should give Syrians an opportunity to figure out how they need to proceed. The core principle of the Constitutional Committee is enshrined in Security Council resolution 2254; it is promotion of the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process. The Special Envoy is there to help them with that. On our part, we stand ready to support his efforts. Do not execute pressure on Syrians or impose unrealistic deadlines. They have a dialogue on crucial issues ahead. These questions cannot be solved in one instant. On our part, we will be driving all sides at having a constructive approach.
Therefore, we continue to interact with our partners from Iran and Turkey in the framework of “Astana”. On 10-11 December Nur-Sultan hosted the 14th International Meeting on Syria in the framework of the “Astana format”. Delegations of Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon took a constructive part in this meeting as observers. The result of the meeting was a joint statement, the essence of which you had an opportunity to study. Thereby it was stressed that activity of guarantors of the “Astana format” will proceed from unfailing respect for sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the SAR.
Apart from political track, the “Astana” also addresses other aspects of the situation in Syria, including confidence-building measures, humanitarian situation, i.a. humanitarian assistance at the entire territory of Syria without any discrimination, politicizing and preconditions. “Astana’s” working group on liberation of detainees sets forth its activity. In this regard, let me highlight the fact that many ignored: on 21 November the Syrian authorities, under mediation of the Russian military, set free 120 detainees, which is a significant humanitarian step aimed to build confidence.
Today’s turn for the better in Syria’s political settlement creates prerequisites for concrete steps in terms of providing comprehensive humanitarian support for the post-conflict recovery of Syria.
We would like to point out that the Constitutional Committee brings together representatives of the Government and civil society of Syria, and the Syrian opposition, including those who control armed groups. So all those who are genuinely interested in shaping the political future of Syria have already joined this process. Whereas outspoken bandits and terrorists continue threatening the Syrian people, e.g. militants from “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (a UN-listed terrorist organization that is entrenched in Idlib). Terrorists in Syria should be given a resolute retaliation.
We emphasize once again that Syria is one of the key states in the Middle East, an inalienable part of the Arab world. It cannot be just torn out of the regional context. In this regard, we stand for soonest return of Damascus to the “Arab family”. It will help restore inter-Arab trust and improve the situation in the Middle East. This is a natural and objective process that is progressing despite external counteraction.
We call on all those who are really interested in bringing peace back to Syria to join our efforts in a constructive manner.
In conclusion, let me thank colleagues – outgoing members of the Council. For many of you this meeting is the last one in this cycle. I thank you for cooperation that we have had during these two years. We have covered a long way, done much work. Let me thank you for the friendship that we have had, and wish to you every success. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you.
Thank you, Mm.President.