UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan on Syria - Joint Media Stakeout
Informal comments to the media by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis, on the situation in Syria.
Transcript of the joint press stakeout:
SG: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here with the distinguished former Secretary-General and out Joint Special Envoy on Syria, the Honorable Kofi Annan.
I only wish the circumstances were less grim.
The situation in Syria has grown increasingly desperate. There is no more urgent task before the international community than to end to the killing, immediately. The government must cease using force against civilians.
We seek a cessation of violence that sets the stage for a peaceful solution - a solution that offers all the Syrian people, regardless of religion or ethnicity or political affiliation, a future of security, dignity and freedom.
This is why, together with Secretary-General El-Araby of the League of Arab States and in accordance with the wishes of the General Assembly, we have appointed Mr. Annan as our Joint Special Envoy.
We had a very good round of initial discussions this afternoon. We will be working closely and with great urgency in the days ahead. Following his meetings in New York, I have asked him to travel to Cairo to meet with the Secretary-General of the Arab League. From there, I will ask him to proceed to the region, including Damascus, as soon as possible.
He will need the support of all those inside and outside Syria. I call on all parties to do their utmost. He will also be counting on the strong support of all Member States for his diplomatic efforts, including the Security Council. He will certainly have mine.
I strongly urge the Syrian authorities to extend their full cooperation. I was extremely disappointed, this morning, to learn that our United Nations humanitarian coordinator Valerie Amos has still not been permitted to visit Syria, despite the clear need and despite the repeated commitments by the government that she would be welcomed.
I take this opportunity to remind the Syrian authorities of their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, and I call on them once again to work toward a peaceful democratic solution for the Syrian people.
Now, let me now know turn the floor over to you.
Annan: Thank you very much Mr. Secretary-General and good evening. I’m happy to be here once again.
But let me thank the Secretary-General and Secretary-General El-Araby of the League of Arab States for the trust they have shown to me, let me put it that way, and the responsibility they have given me.
It is a very difficult assignment and it is a tough challenge.
An the first thing we need to do as the Secretary-General has said is to do everything we can to stop the violence and the killing, to facilitate humanitarian access and ensure that the needy are looked after and work with the Syrians in coming up with a peaceful solution which respects their aspirations and eventually stabilizes the country.
I am not going to say much tonight, since I am going to the region to talk to all concerned. But, let me say one thing. If we are going to succeed, it is extremely important that we all accept there should be one process of mediation.
The one both the UN and the Arab League has asked me to lead. When you have more than one and people take their own initiatives, the parties play with the mediators. If one mediator says something they do not want they go to the other.
So, one single unitary process, and it is when the international community speaks with one voice, that voice is powerful. And we should pool our efforts and work together. I am determined to work with everybody and I am going to consult broadly with all actors and I think that we are well on the way in that direction.
Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Kofi Annan you get a joint mandate tonight to go to the region - the situation is desperate. Do you think you will be there just as a symbolic figure or you have a real message for Damascus. When do you think you are going to reach Damascus?
Annan: I am in touch with leaders in the region and, of course, these regions will have to be arranged. And I am seeing also the Syrian Ambassador during my visit here and I have had the opportunity to reach out to leaders in the region and I am arranging the agenda. And, as you can imagine in this type of situation, every move is sensitive and highly political, even the itinerary, but we are working it out and I would expect to get to Syria fairly soon.
Q: What about the message that my colleague asked you? What kind of message that you are expecting that you are going to convey to Mr. Assad that was already not heard from the Secretary-General and all other leaders of the international community?
Annan: I think the message is clear – that the killing and the violence must stop. Humanitarian agencies must be given access to do their work and it is regrettable that that doesn’t seem to be happening - that is not happening. They should also find a way of resolving their [brief], getting them together for dialogue. There is a need for dialogue between all actors in Syria and that is what we would want to try and push as soon as possible, to get the dialogue going. I know there are people who have other ideas, that dialogue may not be the way to go and one should use other means. But, I think, for the sake of the people, for the sake of the Syrian people who are caught in the middle, a peaceful solution, through dialogue and a speedy one is a way to go.
Q: Mr. Kofi Annan, during your career you have met Mr. Assad before. Do you think this gives you an edge in getting access to him, considering what happened with Under-Secretary-General Amos in the last few days being denied access, because of your prior meetings with him?
Annan: Time will tell. We haven’t been in touch for a couple of years and so I will not presume anything. We will make the demarches and time will tell. But I would plead with him that he should engage, not only with me, but with the process that we are launching today. ..
Q: The Syrian authorities have asked the United Nations to provide a written letter explaining “precise objectives” or the “precise objective” of your mission, Mr. Kofi Annan in Syria.
SG: In fact, before the announcement of the Joint Special Envoy in London, I have asked my Chef de Cabinet, Mr. Nambiar, to inform the Syrian Government officially about our intended announcement of a Joint Special Envoy, that he did to Ambassador [Bashar] Ja’afari here in the Mission and my official letter is on its way to President [Bashar] Assad.
- VIDEO ON-DEMAND