Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen at the Security Council meeting on Syria, February 28

28.02.2019 - Speech

(check against delivery)

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Let me also welcome the new Special Envoy. Your presentation was very clear and you have a very transparent methodological approach. I can only say that we fully stand behind the five priorities you presented on the basis of Resolution 2254. There is a window of opportunity to have a solution to this terrible conflict under the leadership of the UN. It is crucial to gain the confidence of all the participants; this is the basis for success.

Now, from the German perspective, there needs to be a further priority: accountability. Reconciliation in Syria will not be possible without accountability. Germany is now prosecuting members of the Syrian regime which have been accused of abhorrent crimes. It is necessary that we stop impunity and Germany fully supports the IIIM mechanism. As in other crises and conflicts, there is no lasting reconciliation without putting an end to impunity. Let me also highlight the need for confidence-building measures. I think the ASG mentioned the 42 releases, which the Russian Ambassador also welcomed. I think Russia will continue to exert pressure on the Syrian regime so that more releases take place.

We have to do more with regard to confidence-building measures. Detainees are released and we have more clarity about the missing persons. People will only come home if they know that there is no torture, no use of chemical weapons, no forced recruitment, and no expropriation of their homes. From the priorities that the SG mentioned, I wanted to highlight the constitutional committee which  is extremely important. I agree with my Russian colleague who mentioned with regard to the third list of unpleasant circumstances in December, but maybe we have a different view on this. We fully support the decision of Staffan de Mistura at that time to reject the proposal made by the Astana group.

It is very important that we have a credible, balanced and inclusive committee, because this is needed as the basis for the process. In this context, I wish the Special Representative good luck in achieving this. I would also encourage that women are represented when putting this list together. 40 % is a minimum. They are 50 % of the population. I think it should be 50 % but 30% would be good already. We know, after all, that women and children suffered most in the conflict and they have to be represented. I also appreciate your mention of civil society and that you want to engage civil society in finding a political solution.

Let me come to my last point: the humanitarian situation. Germany is among the largest donors of humanitarian aid. The EU, which is having a donor conference in March, is the largest donor for humanitarian aid. The EU is also potentially a strong donor for reconstruction, and in this respect we would have liked to demonstrate to our colleagues in the Security Council in a trip next month what Brussels can achieve. In any case, I can only repeat what my French and Polish colleagues just said, we will only participate in reconstruction if there is a credible and inclusive political process and a political transition is under way.

Thank you very much.

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