UN resolution on Syria "a glimmer of hope", says Minister

Syria/United Nations Security Council Ministerial Meeting – Speech by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development

New York, 18 December 2015

Mr Secretary-General,

Dear colleagues,

The situation is extremely urgent in Syria and for Syria. Over the last five years, 250,000 people have died, four million have become refugees, 13.5 million have been displaced and Daesh [so-called ISIL] terrorism has struck at the heart of our cities. There’s an extremely urgent need to resolve this crisis, which is a threat to international peace and security, well beyond Syria’s borders.

In this context, the text that we’ve just unanimously adopted is a glimmer of hope and what I would call a “road map” resolution.

We all know, because we are part of this, that a political process that remains fragile was initiated in Vienna, on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué, the principles of which remain indispensable for us. This process brings together, in an unprecedented way, all the international partners concerned, and this is a good thing. For the international community, the aim is to provide a credible framework for negotiations that will be conducted between a delegation of the regime and a delegation of the opposition, under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, in order to establish a transitional authority and allow for a ceasefire. Our Security Council is endorsing the initial results today.

I would just like to quickly stress a few points.

The first point relates to the opposition. What opposition, we hear some people asking? Several meetings in various formats have taken place on this issue. But I would like to underscore just how successful the conference recently organized by Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, at the request of the Vienna Group, was. This needs to be stressed because the Syrian opposition was able to respond by uniting. Indeed, all the political and armed opposition movements met together on a common platform. They expressed their commitment to a political solution and a secular, free and democratic Syria that respects all components of the Syrian population. So they’re someone we can talk to, someone with the Geneva Communiqué as their reference point. With the high political committee that emerged, the UN Special Envoy therefore has a legitimate political spokesperson for the opposition. At this stage, I agree with you that the Syrian regime, for its part, has not yet shown any desire to enter into serious negotiations on the basis of the terms laid down.

The second point relates to the political framework.

Inter-Syrian talks are scheduled to take place very soon. But they can only be successful if, with our support and our guarantee, a credible political framework defined by the Geneva and Vienna Communiqués has been effectively established. This framework is based on several principles:

- the first is the implementation of an effective political transition involving the transfer to a transitional authority with full executive powers, including control over the military and security apparatus, as provided for by the Geneva Communiqué. This first phase has to take place soon;

- secondly, a reform of the institutions must take place, notably in the area of security, in order to allow Syria to establish a framework that respects the diversity of the Syrian people;

- lastly, guarantees are needed on the departure of Bashar al-Assad, which is necessary not only for moral reasons but, as we’ve already stressed, for the sake of effectiveness. How could this man unite a population that he has, in large part, helped to massacre? And on this point, irrespective of our ideas, we must not conceal an unavoidable political reality. While Bashar al-Assad continues to remain in power, a genuine and lasting reconciliation between the population and the Syrian state seems to be out of reach.

Lastly, I would like to say a few words about what we think about the ceasefire. It must be implemented; it must be national, viable and verifiable. We believe that at least three conditions must be fulfilled in order for it to be maintained over the long term.

- First of all, we believe that the ceasefire needs to support the transition and not precede it, and that only the advent of this transition will provide the opposition with the necessary security conditions;

- Secondly, we believe that the ceasefire has to be prepared with immediate humanitarian measures aimed at providing relief for the population and giving the political process credibility. Indeed, respect for international humanitarian law is vital, particularly through an immediate end to the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and through unobstructed access for humanitarian aid. Confidence-building measures would be welcome in order to provide a foundation for the ceasefire.

- Lastly, after such violence, monitoring the ceasefire will be an arduous task which will require innovative solutions on the ground, as well as, at the political level, a mechanism whereby the most relevant members of the International Syria Support Group and the permanent members of the Security Council will hold the parties accountable for honouring their commitments.

Dear colleagues,

At the beginning of my speech I mentioned a glimmer of hope and a road map resolution. All of us around the table need to contribute in good faith to creating the conditions for a genuine political transition in Syria. It will be up to everyone to use their influence to lead the Syrian parties to respect the guidelines we have set, particularly when the inter-Syrian talks begin in the very near future under the auspices of the United Nations and Staffan de Mistura.

France will be both active and vigilant. And we will be vigilant in order to ensure that all military forces are focused on the fight against Daesh and the eradication of terrorism. We will be vigilant to ensure that the parties, and above all the regime, engage in the negotiations and comply with their humanitarian obligations. We will exercise vigilance to ensure that the international community commits effectively to a credible transition and a lasting ceasefire. Only through these clear objectives and this newfound unity can the international community, as we would like, triumph over terrorism and put an end to the Syrian tragedy./.

Last modified on 22/12/2015

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