Remarks to the press by Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, after UN Security Council consultations on terrorist threat
November 18, 2015
V.Churkin: We introduced an updated version of the draft resolution we originally circulated in the Security Council on the 30th of September. The reason for that is that we needed to take into account the latest tragic events in Paris and over Sinai. We continue to believe that there must be a concerted effort by the international community. We made our draft a little shorter, cutting off some issues which now look like not priority issues. We emphasized particularly the threat posed by Daesh, Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. We do have a clearer reference than we used to have in the previous draft to the need for all the members of the international community to work together, in particular on the issue of finding and bringing to justice the terrorists who commit those horrendous acts. We included now a reference to Article 51 of the UN Charter. And I think the draft was positively received, some positive comments were made by my French colleague (of course he can speak for himself).
Q: What about (French) draft?
V.Churkin: There is no French draft as of now. As it was explained to me by my French colleague the idea that they have now is to focus very heavily on Daesh. If there is a need to strengthen the Daesh aspect in our draft resolution we’ll look into it, but we also need to understand the context. Yes, Daesh is posing maybe special challenge now but most of the fighting goes on in Syria and Iraq. And there is a very complicated context there: you have Jabhat An Nusra and other terrorist organizations. We have an understanding reached in Vienna that Jordan will be coordinating the joint work to identify other terrorist groups. So we think that even if we try to single out Daesh the general context is also very important. I don’t like to see a competition of two drafts. One thing which was heard loud and clear in our discussions in the Security Council is that there must be unity of the SC.
Q: So the gap is not that big?
V.Churkin: I don’t see it as a big gap.
Q: There is one issue in your draft – issue of fighting terrorists with consent of the states…
V.Churkin: I think our draft is formulated very well. And unless someone is trying to find something to object to I think those who want to fight terrorism should be able to live with this language.
Q: Do you think it’s time now for Russia, France and others to fight together?
V.Churkin: Absolutely! This was the whole drift, substance and message of President Putin’s speech here in this building, in the General Assembly on September 28. That was the entire drive of our initiative and the purpose of our draft resolution. And also as a practical matter you will recall we are calling for closer cooperation that we currently have now of all those who are fighting terrorists in Syria and Iraq. And now we have a very special situation of military operation where Russia and others are participating in various shape and form.
Q: Are you open to eliminate this element regarding the support of the Syrian government?
V.Churkin: If you saw the text you could see that it is written in a general way. It is written in a way which is supposed to be acceptable to everybody who is not looking for something to object to. This is a problem – if you are looking for something to object to of course you can say “well, there is this comma which may be interpreted in a certain way which we don’t like”. But if the intention is really to generate collective work then there is absolutely nothing objectionable in our draft.
Q: Ambassador, can you say a few words about a draft letter for the next Secretary-Genera
V.Churkin: I’m sure the President of the Council is going to speak on that. What I have proposed, half-jokingly, I must admit, that we should set a working group which will have weekly meetings till the end of next year on the joint draft letter by President of the General Assembly and President of the Security Council. In fact if we stick to the resolution of the General Assembly it says that they are asking for a joint letter which is going to describe the process and invite candidates. The process is described in the UN Charter and inviting candidates is just saying “yes, please, submit your candidates”. But if you try to turn it to lengthy negotiations on some fancy document then it will take 12 months for us to negotiate a draft letter. So my pitch which was shared by some colleagues – let’s not overcomplicate matters, and if we don’t overcomplicate matters then I think it can be done very quickly.
Q: Do you have a candidate?
V.Churkin: We have 7-8 candidates from Eastern European Group…
Q: From Russia?
V.Churkin: Russia is a proud member of Eastern European Group. No, we don’t. As you know P5 members are not supposed to have a candidate.
Q: Do you believe that Article 51 means that you can act in Syria without “ok” from the Syrian government?
V.Churkin: In terms of solid international legality of course agreement with the Syrian government is quite important, but also the Syrian government is one of the elements in this fight against terrorists. To ignore the Syrian government… Some are trying to say that they are not going to cooperate with Russia unless some conditions are met. We think this is something which is definitely weakening the possibility of our joint fight against terrorists.