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Department of Political Affairs

Special Envoy for Syria: Latest Remarks


 Special Envoy Kofi Annan talks to President Assad

Special Envoy Kofi Annan and Syrian President Assad, 10.03.12


Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan

Beijing, 27 March 2012
Ahmad Fawzi, Spokesman for the Joint Special Envoy  

The Syrian government has written to the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan accepting his six point plan, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. Mr Annan has written to President Assad urging the Syrian government to put its commitments into immediate effect.

Mr Annan views this as an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed, provide aid to the suffering, and create an environment conducive to a political dialogue that would fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.  

Mr Annan has stressed that implementation will be key, not only for the Syrian people, who are caught in the middle of this tragedy, but also for the region and the international community as a whole. As the Syrian government acts on its commitments, Mr Annan will move urgently to work with all parties to secure implementation of the plan at all levels.

The Joint Special Envoy expresses his appreciation for the wide backing he has received for his mediation efforts, and appeals to key countries to support this development and help ensure its effective implementation.

Transcript of the stakeout by the Joint Special Envoy (SJE) of the United Nations and the
League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis

Geneva, 16 March 2012

Ladies and gentlemen,

I just finished briefing the Security Council about my mission. I shared with them the consultations I held in the region and the calls I have been making around the world to ensure that there is strong support for the mission and we all agree on one mediation process. And I encouraged the Council to speak with one voice as we try to resolve the crisis in Syria.

When I was in Syria, I was able to have discussions not only with President Assad and Foreign Minister Moualem, but I was also able to see some of the opposition leaders, religious leaders, civil society, businessmen and women and also met with the Chairman of the Syrian National Council in Ankara, where I held discussions with Prime Minister Erdoðan and his Foreign Minister.

The region is extremely concerned about developments in Syria. Their concern goes beyond Syria itself because the crisis can have a serious impact for the whole region if it is not handled effectively. I am doing my best with the support of everyone to try and find a peaceful solution. The first objective is for all of us to try and stop the violence, the human rights abuses and the killings and get an unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance to the needy and of course the al-important issue of a political process that will lead to a democratic Syria fulfilling the aspirations of the Syrian people.

In my discussions with the Security Council this afternoon, I was encouraged by the very strong support and the determination of the Council to work together. I know some of you are smiling. There have been some differences but that is also normal, and I hope pretty soon you will be hearing one voice from the Council.  I discussed with the Council proposals I made to the Syrian government that [were] aimed to: one, stop the violence; accelerate humanitarian assistance and establish credibility and confidence for the political process when it is initiated.

I will be sending in a team this weekend to pursue the discussions and the proposals we left on the table, and at the appropriate time, when I deem sufficient progress has been made, I shall be prepared to go back to the region.

If you have any questions, I will take them.

Q: You announced that you received some answers from the Syrian regime about your proposals. Today, when you talked with the Security Council, did you tell them that you received all the answers that you expect or are there still some answers you did not receive?

SJE:  I told the Security Council we were talking with the Syrians and the talking continues.

Q: How much time are you going to give Mr. Assad to answer? The opposition believes that he is buying time to finish with the opposition.

SJE: Time is always an issue in negotiations and of course each crisis or each situation has its own specificities. What is important is for us to engage and make sure the other side are engaging seriously, and to ensure that you are moving ahead and making progress. And as long as you believe that the discussions and the talks that you are having are meaningful, I think you should continue. If you come to the conclusion or make the judgment that it is a waste of time, or one side is playing for time, you draw the consequences and take appropriate action.

Q: Coming back to the point of humanitarian access, do you have a firm commitment when humanitarian support from UN agencies. (inaudible)

SJE: You are talking about the mission? I think they left, I have a feeling they will be there this weekend if they are not there already to start their mission with the Syrian government. And I hope they will be given the access they need and the cooperation necessary to get their work done.

Q: How do you define this conflict? And how much (inaudible)?

SJE: You’ve raised a very important question. Let me start with the second part. I have seen the government and I have also spoken to some members of the opposition. I have not spoken to all of them. What is important is that the opposition I met - it was not the armed opposition – were keen to get talks going and resolve the issue politically and peacefully. Of course, they are impatient. The killings have been going on, it is over a year now, and they are frustrated and upset and angry and they want to see results. And they themselves are trying to organize the opposition groups under an umbrella organization, whether the SNC or whatever,    that would engage with the government when the time comes for talks. But when you are asking how do you define this conflict, I think it is a conflict in a region of the world that has seen many, many traumatic events. I think we need to handle the situation in Syria very, very carefully. Yes, we tend to focus on Syria, but any miscalculation that leads to major escalation will have impact in the region which will be extremely difficult to manage. Some people have a tendency to compare it with Libya or other situations… but I believe Syria would be much more complex and this is why everybody is moving very cautiously and I hope we’ll be able to succeed. And the Syrian Government has to know that the people of Syria want to get on with their lives. They are tired, they have suffered a lot and I can tell you it is for the people of Syria that I toil. I have said in Damascus to the Government that we should place the interest of the people at the centre of all our efforts and remember that they need to be given a peace of mind and stability for them to get on with their lives. So I repeat once again in the name of the people and for the sake of humanity, let’s stop this brutality. Thank you.

Q: How was the atmosphere in your meeting with Mr. Assad?

SJE: It was welcoming and correct.

Q: Ce qu’attend le peuple syrien c’est des choses pratiques. La seule chose qui ressort c’est l’envoi d’une mission humanitaire. Et lorsque cette mission accepte d’être sous le contrôle du gouvernement syrien, est-ce que ça ne risque pas de biaiser, puisque le gouvernement a annoncé qu’il n’y a pas de crise humanitaire?

SJE : Mais si on ne travail pas avec le gouvernement syrien, comment peut-on faire le travail nécessaire? Ce sont eux qui contrôlent le terrain, ils sont obligés de travailler avec eux. J’espère qu’ils vont avoir les capacités ou bien l’indépendance ou bien la flexibilité de faire le travail, mais ils sont obligés de travailler avec le gouvernement.

Q. A question on the response from the Syrians. Out of the questions that you posed them, how many did they actually answer?

SJE: I don’t think we can look at it mathematically like that.

Q. Are you satisfied with them?

SJE: We are continuing our discussions, we are continuing our discussions, and as I said, the team is going in over the week-end to continue.

Q. Do you see realistically that the coalition that has been formed… (inaudible)

SJE: That will have to come out of the talks between the Syrians. It will be for them to decide. The process that I am asked to lead is a Syrian-led process, which leads to the establishment of a democratic Syria, and the decision will have to be taken by the Syrians. I can’t take the decisions for them.

Thank you.


Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan 

14 March 2012, Geneva

The Joint Special Envoy (JSE) for Syria Kofi Annan has now received a response from the Syrian authorities. The JSE has questions and is seeking answers.
But given the grave and tragic situation on the ground, everyone must realize that time is of the essence. As he said in the region, this crisis cannot be allowed to drag on.


Remarks by the UN-League of Arab States Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan

13 March 2012, Ankara

"I came to Ankara to meet Prime Minister Erdogan to meet with Prime Minister Erdogan and also had a good working dinner with the Foreign Minister. We discussed the situation of Syria, as you can imagine. I briefed them on what happened since my appointment as Envoy (for Syria), and we followed the discussions in the Security Council. I also indicated to them that I'm expecting to hear from the Syrian authorities today since I left concrete proposals with them to consider and once I receive their answer we will know how to react.

But let me say that the killing and the violence must stop. The Syrian people have gone through lot, they deserve better. I have made it clear at the beginning of my mission that my main preoccupation is the welfare of the Syrian people and the Syrian nation. We should put the interests of the people at the centre of everything that we do. And I know that the strong international community support, the whole world is coming together, is working with us to resolve this situation in Syria, and with goodwill and determination I am hopeful we will make progress.

And I also had the chance this morning to meet with Dr Burhan Ghalioun of the SNC (Syrian National Council). It was a useful meeting. We had constructive discussions as to my approach and how the future development of the process would be. And they have also promised their full cooperation which will be necessary if we are to succeed."


Special Envoy Kofi Annan answers questions by journalists at Ankara Airport

12 March 2012, Ankara

Mr. Annan: (I am concerned) about developments in Syria. There are grave and appalling reports of atrocities and abuses. The killing of civilians must stop now. The world has to send a clear and united message in this regard.

Question: on whether he was hopeful after meeting that humanitarian aid would get in...

Mr. Annan: We are still pressing for that. I think we all have to understand that this is a very complex situation. We are going to press ahead for humanitarian access, for the killings of civilians to stop, and get everybody to the table to work out a political solution. It’s not going to be easy.  It will take time -- hopefully not too much time because we can't afford to let this thing drag on for too long.  Neither will it be solved today.


Second Meeting with President Assad

11 March 2012, Damascus

I have just had my second meeting with President Assad.
Our discussions focussed on the core objectives of this process: an immediate stop to the violence and the killing; access for humanitarian agencies, and the start of a political dialogue.
I presented a set of concrete proposals which would have a real impact on the situation on the ground and which will help launch a process aimed at putting an end to this crisis. I told the President that my main preoccupation is the welfare of the Syrian people –that we should place the interests of the people at the centre of all our efforts.
I have also met representatives of the opposition, as well as civil society, businessmen and women and religious leaders.
The transformational winds blowing today cannot be long-resisted.
I have urged the President to heed the old African proverb: “you cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail.”
The realistic response is to embrace change and reform.
Reforms that will create a solid foundation for a democratic Syria – a peaceful, stable, pluralistic and prosperous society, based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Thank you.
Q: Mr. Annan, the President said that the political process could not start before ending the armed actions in the Syrian cities. The opposition that you met yesterday said that violence, killing and arresting should end before starting a political solution. How are you going to harmonize between those two viewpoints in order to move towards a political solution to the Syrian crisis?
KA: That is part of the challenge and part of my efforts; obviously, when you start this process, people have different positions. The challenge is to bring them to a point when they compromise and realize that the only way to move forward is by compromise and making conceptions. You have to start by stopping the killings and the misery and the abuses that is going on today and then give time and space for the political settlement. I know there will be many positions. When you start negations that is always the case, but the challenge for the mediator is to reconcile all these positions and to move forward and that is the challenge that I have to do.
Q: After meeting with President Assad and the opposition, are you optimistic about your mission in Syria?
KA: Yes. Yes, it is going to be tough, it’s going to be difficult but we have to have hope. I am optimistic for several reasons. First of all, I have come for a short period. Almost every Syrian have left more space. They want the violence to stop, they want to move on with their lives, and the longer the violence continues the waste that impacts is going to be for the average man and woman who is simply drastic get on in his or her life.
We  can’t allow the situation to deteriorate to a point where the unemployment is very high, the economic and social deterioration sassing and that in itself create tensions and I hope we will work together to stop the crises before  we get there or even get to worse position.
Q: President Al-Assad and the opposition said they don’t make dialogue with war. Does that make your work end before it starts?
KA: Well, you’ll always have skeptics and doubts. The world is made up of optimism and skeptics and we’ll live with that. What I will say is that the situation is so bad and so dangerous that all of us cannot afford to fear. It is our responsibility, and when I say all of us I’m saying that peace and stability in Syria is the responsibility of every single. It’s not the responsibility of the mediator alone and not of the Government alone. Your voices should be heard. You should be able to advance in your mosques, in your churches, in your communities to help reconcile this nation.  I have often maintain that when leaders fail to lead the people can make them follow, so people are not part.
Q: Have you received promises of cease-fire and approvals on accepting the humanitarian assistance?
KA: That is some issues we’re discussing with the President and in fact I said I have left concrete proposals with the President and the issues you raised were part of the proposals.


First Meeting with President Assad

10 March 2012, Damascus

The UN / LAS Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan met President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus today.  Mr Annan expressed grave concern at the situation in Syria and urged the President to take concrete steps to end the current crisis.

Mr Annan put several proposals on the table regarding stopping the violence and the killing, access for humanitarian agencies and the ICRC, release of detainees, and the start of an inclusive political dialogue to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the people.

Mr Annan described the talk as candid and comprehensive. He will meet President Assad again tomorrow to resume discussions. Later in the day Mr Annan met opposition leaders and young activists, as well as prominent businessmen and businesswomen. The JSE departs Damascus tomorrow afternoon for Doha, Qatar.

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