21 June 2016, New York – European Union Statement delivered by Mr. Roberto Storaci, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Informal United Nations General Assembly meeting on Syria
Thank you Mr. President.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
The intra-Syrian political process has come to a critical point. Europe is contributing to the efforts of the international community: we reactivated our humanitarian office in Damascus, we are engaged on the ground as the first donor to the Syrian people and their host communities, and we play our role in encouraging and accompanying the political track.
The European Union is committed to strengthening its collective work to step up support to the Syrian opposition, and in particular the High Negotiations Committee, as the opposition delegation in the UN-brokered talks in Geneva. Therefore, the EU hosted an internal meeting of the two biggest components of the HNC, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (SOC) and the National Coordination Body (NCB), in Brussels on 13-14 June 2016.
The EU is an active member of the International Syria Support Group which launched a process endorsed unanimously by the UNSC. We will do all in our power to ensure the full implementation of UNSCRs 2254, 2268 and the Geneva Communiqué.
A Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition based on the principles of the Geneva Communiqué, is needed to bring a lasting peace to the country, defeat Da’esh in Syria and enable Syrians to return to their homes in safe conditions and to contribute to the reconstruction of the country. The EU calls on all parties to actively support a process that will lead to a credible and inclusive transition. Consequently, the EU urges the government delegation to finally lay out Syria’s plan for implementing credible inclusive transitional governance, as called for by UNSCR 2254. Serious negotiations are required to reach an agreement by 1 August on such a transition. Speeches such as that by Bashar Al-Assad on 7 June which reject the political process, reject the legitimacy of the opposition delegation and advocate a military solution, seem calculated to undermine the ISSG process and with it the best hope for peace in Syria. There cannot be a lasting peace in Syria under the present leadership and until the legitimate grievances and aspirations of all components of the Syrian society are addressed.
Revitalising and strengthening the cessation of hostilities is also essential. The EU condemns all attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, in particular against medical facilities, schools, markets and IDP camps. The EU strongly condemns these indiscriminate attacks committed by the Syrian regime against its own people.
The UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has our full support. All international actors with influence on the parties, and notably with the Syrian regime, need to do whatever they can to make the cessation of hostilities work, secure the protection of civilians and immediate, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access and as well as make progress on the issue of arbitrarily detained persons, in order to have an enabling environment in which direct negotiations can start.
The EU is ready to step up its preparations for early engagement in the recovery and rehabilitation effort in Syria to rapidly provide support to stabilisation, reconstruction and the return of refugees and IDPs to their homes in safe conditions once a political transition has started.
Let me conclude by reiterating the EU’s strong support for transitional justice and accountability for all serious human rights abuses and violations of International Humanitarian Law and renewing our call to the UNSC to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
Thank you Mr. President.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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