– As delivered –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Iceland+, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
1. The European Union supported the resolution on Syria that was adopted today by the General Assembly and that underlines once again the urgency of finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria in which more than 80,000 people have lost their lives. A crisis that has brought unspeakable suffering to the people of Syria and that has already gone beyond Syria’s borders, gravely destabilizing the whole region. We recall in this regard, once again, the necessity to respect the sovereignty and integrity of the neighbouring States and we condemn all related infringements by State and non-State actors. The EU also reiterates its attachment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.
2. The European Union has consistently supported the vision of a political settlement outlined in the Geneva Communiqué and we fully welcome and support the joint call made by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to convene as soon as possible an international peace conference on Syria as a follow up to the Geneva Conference of June 2012. Only bringing the two sides to the negotiating table can kick off the political process. The EU is ready to assist in any way possible all efforts in this direction. We hope that the two sides will exercise flexibility so as to start the dialogue soon and that this will be the beginning of a true peace process. It is imperative that the process is Syrian-led and that the interlocutors will be truly empowered to implement on the ground whatever decisions will be made. We also reaffirm our full support to Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi and we call on all parties to cooperate with him.
3. The European Union has welcomed the establishment of the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, which we accept as legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. The Coalition is, as today’s Resolution points out, an effective representative interlocutor very much needed for a political transition and it is of outmost importance that all Syrian opposition forces act in a united way towards a democratic transition in Syria in the inclusive framework of the Syrian Opposition Coalition. We are committed to continue supporting the Coalition in its efforts to become more inclusive and to remain committed to the respect of the principles of human rights, inclusivity and democracy as well as to engage with all opposition groups and all sections of Syrian civil society. At this crucial juncture in the crisis, we welcome the acceptance by the Coalition of the principle of a political process under credible conditions and we urge the Coalition to seize the opportunity created by the American and Russian initiative.
4. The European Union is appalled by the dire humanitarian situation in Syria and by its impact on neighbouring countries, which, as recent discussions in the Security Council have shown, is clearly becoming a threat to international peace and security. We are particularly grateful to the governments and the peoples of Syria’s neighbouring countries for the generosity they have shown in dealing with this crisis and we are committed to remain the leading humanitarian donor in the context of the Syrian conflict, as a part of a wider international response. In this framework, we call on Member States to honour their pledges made, most recently at the Kuwait Conference. Today’s resolution makes a number of important demands to deal with the humanitarian crisis and in particular to ensure safe and timely provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting. We join in this call, by urging once again the regime in Damascus to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance by whatever routes are most effective in order to reach all the population in need, including across borders, and to allow a broader scope of humanitarian actors to work in Syria.
5. The European Union strongly condemns the widespread and systematic violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law, while recalling that the Syrian regime bears the primary responsibility for the ongoing violence. We call on all parties to the conflict to commit to their obligation to abide by international humanitarian law – including the protection of medical facilities, staff and patients – and hold to account those in their ranks who do not. The European Union reaffirms that there should be no impunity for any such violations and abuses and recalls that the United Nations Security Council can refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, as requested in the Swiss letter to the Security Council of 14 January 2013, at any time. We have repeatedly called on the United Nations Security Council to urgently address the situation in Syria in all aspects, including this issue. The European Union also calls on all parties to the conflict to respect the cultural heritage and all religious sites of Syria and we condemn attacks against spiritual leaders of all religions and denominations.
6. The EU remains extremely concerned by allegations that chemical weapons might have been used in Syria. We emphasize that any use of chemical weapons, whether by a State or a non-State actor, is abhorrent and must be unreservedly condemned. It is important that a clear message will come today demanding that the Syrian authorities strictly observe their obligations under international law with respect to chemical and biological weapons and refrain from using or transferring any chemical and biological weapons, or any related material. The EU expresses its full support for the decision of the UN Secretary General to determine the facts in relation to the allegations of the use of chemical weapons. It is important that all parties cooperate fully with the investigation and permit unfettered access to the investigation team. The safety and security of chemical weapons stockpiles must also be ensured, pending independently verified destruction under OPCW supervision.
7. The General Assembly of the United Nations has given an important message today that the European Union fully supports: now is the time for action and now is the time to move forward towards a genuine political transition in Syria that makes a clear break with the past and that finally brings about a civil, democratic and pluralistic Syria, where all citizens are equal regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity.
I thank you, Mr. President.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.