Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the UN Security Council Meeting on Syria
We are thankful to Under-Secretary-General Mark Lowcock and David Lillie for their briefings. We are also thankful to Head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria Alexey Bakin for the briefing about the latest developments “on the Syrian ground”. We would like to point out that the information provided by the Russian expert is also reflected in bulletins of Russia’s Defense Ministry on de-escalation zones that we circulate among the Security Council Members on a regular basis.
In light of the detailed briefing by Major General Bakin, I will not take long to speak, especially since we discussed the humanitarian situation in Syria last week. At the same time, we have to say that the information shared at the “high rostrum” of the Security Council sometimes is contrary to the operative data that comes directly from the de-escalation locations. This proves that there are attempts to politicize the Syrian humanitarian dossier.
In general, it is high time everyone abandoned double standards regarding what goes on in Syria. Mr. Lillie mentioned today that the population in Idlib feels left behind. Well, they are not left behind, they are hostages to 'Hayat Tahrir al-Sham'. We constantly hear about sufferings of people in IDP camp ‘Rukban’, but little is said about camp ‘Al-Hawl’, where the humanitarian situation is critical. We have already asked why the Security Council did not consider the situation when the so-called coalition was razing Baghouz and Hajin to the ground? In the first quarter of 2019, massive air-strikes of the coalition at the settlement Baghuz Fawqani killed over 1200 people and destroyed civil infrastructure including schools and hospitals. By the way, all this information is open-sourced. We can once again recall Raqqa that in fact was destroyed to ruins.
The distinguished Members of the Security Council have called upon us many times to observe the Sochi Memorandum dated 17 September 2017. However, we do not disassociate from it: the Head of the Russian Reconciliation Center confirmed this today. The Memorandum is being implemented. It reads black and white that there is a need to fight terrorist activities. We repeat again: all the military action is aimed solely against terrorist hotbeds. We stress again: Syrian armed forces and Russian Air-Space Forces target only terrorists' facilities identified as such by intelligence data.
In this regard, we call upon the UN Secretariat and the specialized agencies of the Organization, including WHO, not to hurry publishing unverified information. Data should always come from verified non-politicized sources. They must be double-checked to determine, i.a. if the facilities that were allegedly stricken had gone through the deconfliction procedures. To our regret, we still have profound doubts as to the reliability of those sources and their verification methods.
We have lasting concerns about the situation in the East bank of the Euphrates – in the ‘Al-Tanf’ zone that has been unlawfully occupied by the US. Let me remind once again that according to the Geneva conventions, the occupying state is responsible for the population residing in the occupied areas.
What is worth specific attention of the Security Council is IDP camp “Al-Hawl” in Hasakah Governorate (area out of control of the Syrian Government).
In conclusion, let me emphasize that the position of Russia remains unchanged. We will take every step to bring peace back to Syria. We will do it in our national capacity, in our capacity of a Permanent Member of the Council, and also in the framework of “Astana troika” that has done more than any other format in terms of de-escalation and eradication of terrorist threat, expansion of humanitarian aid, and promotion of political process.
Speaking about political process, we would like to commend the level of interaction that has been reached between the Syrian authorities and the Office of Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Geir Pedersen. We expect that dialogue between the UN and Damascus will help launch a sustainable Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process, that will be supported by the UN and be fully compliant with UN SC resolution 2254 and decisions made at the Congress of the Syrian national dialogue in Sochi. We call upon all interested stakeholders to consolidate efforts to stabilize the situation in the SAR, jointly eradicate terrorism, engage in post-conflict recovery and assist in getting refugees and IDPs back to their homes. If we galvanize action at these tracks, it will give impetus to the efforts of Special Envoy G.Pedersen.
In response to the representative of France:
Thank you, Mr. President,
At the San Francisco Conference that elaborated the UN Charter, the 75th anniversary of which we will be celebrating the next year, one of the key contradictions was that regarding the scope of the veto right – if veto should be conditional or unconditional.
Back then, the Soviet Union argued that the veto right should be unconditional and applicable to all the items to be considered by the Council, including proposals of issues for discussion.
However, the delegations of the United States, Great Britain and France, as well as other countries objected to this approach of the Soviet Union. Ultimately, their logic won the upper hand. As a result, today, when we want to discuss an issue at the Security Council, and there is a country that objects, no Permanent Member of the Council can use the veto right – we all vote on procedural issues.
Then those delegations explained their approach by the assumption that the unconditional use of the veto right would have been a violation of the freedom of speech. Today we were surprised to see that the delegation of France adopted the position of the USSR from the times the UN Charter was drafted in San Francisco: the French delegation cast doubt on the briefer we invited to make a briefing on the situation in Syria.
You always ask us about the situation on the ground. We tried to make sure you receive first-hand information regarding this. No one does more to stabilize the situation on the ground in Syria than the Russian Reconciliation Center has done during the years of conflict.
I would like to draw your attention, Mr. President, that our delegation never doubted any of the briefers invited by the delegations who today called our briefer in question. However, if these delegations choose to initiate this game, we are ready to support it further on. Still I would propose to our distinguished delegates to listen to our representative, because he will shed light on many issues you are interested in.