7855th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East; Syria

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SIX OFFICIAL 31-Dec-2016 00:43:54
The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting efforts by the Russian Federation and Turkey to end the violence in Syria and jump-start a political process, at 7855th meeting.
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By the terms of resolution 2336 (2016), submitted by the Russian Federation and Turkey, the 15-member Council took note of a package of documents issued by those countries on 29 December (document S/2016/1133), laying out the terms of a country-wide ceasefire in Syria to start on 30 December.

The package also outlined agreements reached on a mechanism to record ceasefire violations; on the regime for applying sanctions to violators; and on establishing delegations to launch negotiations in mid-January in Astana, Kazakhstan, on a political settlement aimed at a comprehensive resolution of the Syrian crisis by peaceful means.

Stressing the importance of fully implementing all relevant resolutions, particularly resolutions 2254 (2015) and 2268 (2016), the Council looked forward to the meeting to be held in Astana between the Syrian Government and opposition representatives, viewing it as an important part of the Syrian-led political process, and a “step ahead” of the resumption of negotiations under United Nations auspices in Geneva on 8 February 2017.

Further, the Council reiterated its call on parties to allow humanitarian agencies “rapid, safe and unhindered” access throughout Syria, reiterating that the only sustainable solution to the crisis was an inclusive, Syrian-led political process, based on the 2012 Geneva communiqué.

In the ensuing debate, delegates welcomed the Council’s unanimous support for the ceasefire brokered by the Russian Federation and Turkey, stressing that it only increased the legitimacy of those efforts, and confidence in the Council’s own ability to make important decisions. Some asked for details on the participation of opposition groups in Astana, humanitarian access and the United Nations role in the Astana political process, with several noting that the Special Envoy for Syria must play a key role in those efforts.

The representative of the United States supported the resolution because it struck the right balance between cautious optimism and a realistic need to see how it would be implemented. She expressed regret that annexes to the agreement had not been made available, and concern over reports of both a regime offensive supported by Hizbullah in the Wadi Barada village north-west of Damascus, and differences between regime and delegation documents. She asked for an explanation of why those differences existed.

The United Kingdom’s representative, stressing that discrepancies between key texts must be resolved, said monitoring of the ceasefire would be crucial. The Russian Federation and Turkey must ensure any such measures were independent and coordinated with both the United Nations and the International Syria Support Group’s ceasefire task force.

On that point, France’s delegate said the Russian-Turkish agreement contained a number of “grey areas”, including whether the regime was genuinely committed to the ceasefire. The Council had not received the list of groups included in the agreement, and the level of commitment of all parties remained uncertain. He also expressed concern over which groups would be designated as terrorist groups.

At the same time, said Egypt’s representative, it was critical to act rapidly and launch the diplomatic process. Real intentions focused on a final political solution were crucial. Military activity would never solve the crisis, he said, urging Syrian parties to act responsibly to find a Syrian solution which would protect the country’s territorial integrity.

Broadly speaking, the representative of the Russian Federation said today’s resolution spoke to the need for a cessation of hostilities in Syria and a meeting in Astana where the Syrian Government and opposition would, for the first time, meet face-to-face. “If you can’t help and if you don’t want to help, make sure you don’t complicate things,” he said. The international community must be guided by the goals of achieving a political settlement in 2017, respecting the interests of the Syrian people and fostering stability in the region.

Also speaking today were the representatives of New Zealand, Angola, Venezuela, Ukraine, Uruguay, Senegal, China, Malaysia, Japan and Spain.

The meeting began at 1:01 p.m. and ended at 1:44 p.m.
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