European Council President urges Security Council action on Syria

Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council (European Union). UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

25 September 2013 – A top official at the European Union pleaded today for the Security Council to adopt a clear resolution on Syria and end the “spiral of criminal, sectarian violence” at the heart of “the world’s most unstable region.”

In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly’s high-level debate, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, said the international community “absolutely must avoid a dreadful precedent being set on the use of chemical weapons - an abhorrent crime against humanity.”

He called the role of the UN “indispensable” in the controlling and destroying Syria’s arsenal, underscored time and again by the 28 Governments of the European Union (EU).

“It is urgent for the Security Council, together with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to take the necessary decisions to ensure the swift and secure destruction of Syria’s poison gas and nerve agent stocks,” Mr. Van Rompuy said, following UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report and the inventory from the Syrian Government.

The head of the European Council said that a breakthrough on chemical weapons is an important political opening, “in the black wall of Syria’s doom, it will be a first crack.”

He urged continued hard work towards the so-called Geneva II meeting, which would include representatives of Syrian parties as well as senior United States, Russian and UN officials.

“The European Union is ready to provide all support needed to achieve a political settlement,” said Mr. Van Rompuy. He noted, however, that reconciliation is a long process. “No longer waging war is one thing, living again together quite another.”

Turning to the theme of this year’s debate, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, he called the EU a “faithful development partner” who “would not draw away from our responsibilities” around the world.

He stressed that it is at the UN that a “new impetus” must be given for a development agenda.

In his speech, Mr. Van Rompuy also highlighted the improving economics of European countries, noting that economic growth is expected in all but one of the 28 countries.

“We are putting our house in order, and expect others to do so too,” he said, adding that countries around the world need to correct internal imbalances and pursue structural reforms.

Mr. Van Rompuy is among a host of leaders to speak at the annual General Assembly session at which heads of State and Government and other high-level officials will present their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance.

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