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Remarks by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen during Security Council Meeting on Syria  - February 28, 2020

28.02.2020 - Speech

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Mr. President, we only spoke yesterday here and did not believe that we would reunite again today, but we are witnessing again a dramatic escalation in Idlib.

The situation is becoming more worrying. More than 30 Turkish soldiers have been killed. Germany strongly condemns the attack and we express our deepest condolences to the Turkish government, to the families of the victims. We stand in full solidarity with Turkey. We are witnessing again a risk for a wider regional escalation. I can only repeat what we have said numerous times from here: we demand Syria to immediately stop its military offensive, its military offensive against civilians and military offensive against Turkish forces. We demand Russia to stop the support of the military offensive by the Syrian Regime.

There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict, or to any of the other conflicts that we have on our agenda.

There are no military solutions.

There are political solutions.

Whenever these military solutions are undertaken, it's always civilians that are the victims. We see this in Syria.  We see this in Yemen. We see this in in Libya, where also today we saw attacks on civilian targets in Tripoli.

The ongoing air strikes by the Syrian Regime and its allies on the civilians of Idlib are abhorrent. And I want to quote my Foreign Minister, Heiko Mass, who said yesterday in this chamber, “Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are war crimes and those responsible must be held accountable. Conducting counter-terrorism measures doesn't absolve anyone from respecting international humanitarian law.”

The Syrian Regime and Russia must fully abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, should return to the ceasefire arrangement of 2018 and should end the hostilities. We also call on Russia to continue negotiations with Turkey to bring about a de-escalation in Idlib and facilitate the start of a political process.

We have said this again and again. We need a humanitarian ceasefire and we need it now.

Germany, together with France, as my French colleague just said, we are ready on the highest level to work towards that goal with Russia and Turkey. The hope for a lasting ceasefire emanating from the Astana Format, appears to have been in vain. As others before me have said:  the Astana format doesn't work, and we call on the Secretary-General to continue his engagement. We very much appreciate your presence here today, which also demonstrates your engagement in this issue. We can only encourage you to personally continue to try and find a ceasefire without delay.

A sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict - and I can only repeat this again and again - can only be achieved through diplomatic efforts. We need to go back to Resolution 2254. We need to have, under the auspices of the UN, this political solution. We have to have the Constitutional Committee succeed.

Instead of investing in bombs and warplanes and fighting, Russia should invest into these peace talks. Instead of making cynical remarks about failing radiators, Russia should invest in and support the humanitarian efforts and support the people who are suffering under the horrendous attacks by Syria supported by Russia.

My minister made it clear yesterday, “We must step up our efforts to find a political solution. A regime that has been killing and torturing its own people cannot bring lasting peace and stability to Syria. And reconciliation without accountability for the terrible crimes committed will not work. Those who continue to fight in this war should finally realize that.” Thank you.

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