NEW YORK, APRIL 12 – The most recent events in Syria might create a new window of opportunity to relaunch the faltering cessation of hostilities and reconsolidate the political process, the Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi told the Security Council after an open door meeting with the UN Special envoy Staffan de Mistura. “It is our collective responsibility to try and turn the current delicate juncture into an occasion to revitalize the chances for peace in Syria”, Cardi said calling upon the international community for a “diplomatic surge” to support the Geneva talks and advance the political process by swiftly implementing all steps agreed by this Council in resolution 2254.
“As the negotiation moves to the substance of the issues, no rapid major breakthroughs can be expected. But we commend the UN Special Envoy for having kept the parties engaged to the process and committed to discussing the way forward in accordance with a defined agenda, in line with UNSCR 2254”, Cardi said: “Efforts should now be redoubled by the parties to address in detail the substantive matters of the agenda. We have consistently encouraged the HNC to adopt a realistic and flexible attitude during the negotiations”. The Italian Ambassador added that countries with influence on Damascus, such as Russia and Iran, should now press the regime to engage seriously in the negotiations, “which it has never done, and avoid dilatory tactics”.
The U.N. Security Council has scheduled a vote Wednesday afternoon on a Western-drafted resolution that would condemn the reported use of chemical weapons in northern Syria and demand that all parties provide speedy access for investigators. Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft called on all 15 members to support the resolution drafted by the U.K., France and t he United States saying “every country that really wants the truth will vote in favor of the resolution.” But the final draft includes a paragraph that the Russians obje cted to last week stressing Syria’s requirement to provide investigators with flight plans and information about air operations on April 4 when Khan Sheikhoun was attacked, names of helicop ter squadron commanders, and immediate access to air bases where they believe an attack may have been launched. Rycroft said Russia has a choice of sticking with “the toxic Assad regime that poisons its own people” or seeking peace through negotiations and a political transition.
In Rome the Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano told the Senate on Wednesday that Syria cannot have a positive future with President Bashar al-Assad in power. “Whether or not Assad stays in power does not just have an impact on the security and stability of Syria, but also on the prospects of rebuilding the country,” he said. “One cannot contemplate a period of reconstruction while Assad kills his own people and while bombs keep falling”. Alfano said “there are no shortcuts, the only way forward is through negotiations”. He said “Russia alone is not enough, the US is needed”. Iran must also be involved, Alfano said, announcing that he will make another phone call to Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif this afternoon, following one later on Monday.
To read Ambassador Cardi’s full statement, click here. (@alebal)