8567th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East

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27-Jun-2019 01:55:41
Fighting in North-Western Syria presents ‘Powder Keg’ for regional escalation, Special Envoy warns during briefing to Security Council at 8567th meeting.

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Fighting in Syria’s Idlib Governorate presents a powder keg for regional escalation, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy in that country warned the Security Council today, as he urged the Russian Federation and Turkey to help stabilize the area and called more broadly for renewed support for the creation of a constitutional committee as a central component of plans for peace.

Briefing from Geneva, the Special Envoy reported that conditions in and around the Idlib de-escalation area are characterized by air strikes, mortar attacks and other assaults, all involving indiscriminate use of force. The front lines have not shifted significantly, and protection must be afforded to Idlib’s 3 million people amid reports of military exchanges between Syrian and Turkish observation posts.

He said assurances from the Russian Federation and Turkey that they will uphold commitments outlined in their September 2018 Memorandum of Understanding on Idlib must be reflected on the ground and a nationwide ceasefire must be pursued. If achieved, parties must also avoid a “no war, no peace” scenario in which Syria’s sovereignty would continue to be violated, refugees would still not return, and the fate of detainees and missing persons would remain unresolved. “A political process must be about more than meeting in Geneva,” he emphasized, saying it must also involve actions to inspire trust and confidence.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates deplored the escalating tensions in north-western Syria and urged the parties concerned to create the conditions for both a nationwide ceasefire and a political settlement, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).

The representative of the United States said Syria and the Russian Federation have repeatedly broken assurances to uphold ceasefires and advance the political process, also citing the Astana group’s failure on that front. A viable political process starts with a ceasefire in Idlib, he emphasized, adding that Turkey should be responsible for removing terrorist forces from the north-west.

In similar vein, the United Kingdom’s representative questioned Syria’s commitment to the political process, citing its continued prevarications regarding the constitutional committee. She advocated other routes to a political solution if progress proves elusive.

France’s representative expressed support for the Special Envoy’s efforts to forge a credible, balanced constitutional package while pressing Syria to stop obstructing that process. France will allocate an additional €50 million to alleviate the situation in north-western Syria, he added.

Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s representative said his country is working for progress on the political front and to restore confidence among the parties, both inside Syria and around it. Senior Russian representatives were engaged in consultations in recent days — including with the opposition and the Syrian authorities — on the formation of the constitutional committee, with the goal of launching a process in Geneva under the Special Envoy’s auspices and based on resolution 2254 (2015).

Syria’s representative objected to Turkey’s occupation of his country’s territory, emphasizing that the Charter of the United Nations does not allow others to intervene in sovereign affairs. He said that, although his country is ready to work with the Special Envoy in facilitating an intra-Syrian dialogue, the formation of a constitutional committee is “the tip of the iceberg”. Any political track that does not consider support for Syria, end illegal foreign presences and economic measures, or respect Syria’s sovereignty is unrealistic, he stressed.

Also speaking today were representatives of China, Côte d’Ivoire, Poland, South Africa, Peru, Belgium, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Germany and Kuwait.

The meeting began at 10:45 a.m. and ended at 12:40 p.m.

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