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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Notes to correspondents

Note to Correspondents: Transcript of Press Stakeout of the Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura

New York, 3 February 2016

First of all let me say that my obligation to open these talks on behalf of the Secretary-General in January came from a resolution, a Security Council resolution, well they instructed me to start the talks. We were ready; the agenda has been also ready 2254.  I made it clear at the Security Council, on behalf of the Secretary-General and in public speeches that the talks will not be meaningful, will not be meaningful, unless they will also be accompanied by a tangible benefit for the Syrian people.  We have said it many times.  This is why I have been asking and I have been asking even before issuing the invitations that there is an immediate implementation of humanitarian initiative, even before the talks start.  I was told and reassured that they were going to take place during the talks.

Well, I have been hearing from the government that they had some procedural issues before talking about humanitarian side.  I have been hearing from the opposition that they are urgently feeling the need for the Syrian people. 

Based on that, based on that,  I concluded frankly that after the first week of preparatory talks, and they are talks, and the talks have started, you can call them as you want, but they were talks, but there  is more work, more work, to be done.  Not only by us, we have done our part, but by the stakeholders, who have been telling us, go and start this initiative, while in fact, they the Security council and the ISSG, are now expected to address some of the issues pending, one in particular, what are these talks going to make as a difference to the Syrian people.

From the first day I have indicated that I am not prepared to hold talks  for the sake of talks and the Secretary-General has said the same.  The UN cannot allow simple procedural matters to actually become more important than  actually the results of humanitarian situation of the Syrian people who have been waiting for us to deliver this time,  not a conference, but something concrete for them.  I therefore, have taken this decision to bring a temporary pause,  temporary pause, this is not end and it is not the failure of the talks - why, they came and they stayed, not only but both sides insisted on the fact that they are interested in having the political process started.  I already fixed a date for the next talks, 25th of February, for I find that this stage is very important to give an opportunity to those who have been insisting that the talks take place that they also address the issues which have been pending and unresolved, those who are asking and will be asking for the ISSG to convene as soon as possible, hopefully already in Munich, the Security Council to meet and we convene in Geneva, again, on the 25th of February. 

The whole matter is, again, are we here to have another Geneva conference without any result for the Syrian people, or are we serious about what we have been saying, that while we are having a conference, talking about the future, and political future of Syria, and the new constitution, and the new elections, the Syrian people will see and expect me and they expect all of us to produce something while we are talking.  Since I am not seeing that, I have to be honest and say with myself, it is time now to have a pause only a pause and give time for this to happen.

Thank you very much.

Q. Al Jazeera: You’ve said nothing about the military escalation by the Syrian government and the Russian bombardment, haven’t they basically bombed your talks?

SdM: I’m not referring to military activities, I’m saying to an impossibility through military activities and other reasons for the fact that the humanitarian signals which are meant to be sent to the Syrian people – for instance lifting of the sieges, for instance the access for all the places which are at the moment unreachable – should be seen.

Q. Xinhua: What are your feelings, are you disappointed, are you frustrated, what are you going to do know?

SdM: First of all about my feelings. Well, I spoke with the Secretary-General and I’m going probably tomorrow to London to explain and to make sure that the Conference which is taking place in London will realise that what they are doing is very important because if there is a preparation for the day after and for the refugees and for the Syrian people, it will be an additional incentive for actually having the reconvening of the talks on the 25th as successful. I’m not frustrated, I’m not disappointed, I have been long enough with the UN to know that when you have a five-years war and have had so many difficult moments, you have to be determined but also realistic and when you see things going in a certain direction, you take – we are the convener, we manage the conference, we decide when the conference producing results or not and if they don’t produce results we need to go deeper, that’s what we are doing.

Thank you.