20 April 2018

Transcripts of Joint Press Stakeout by UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, during his visit in Moscow

Transcript of remarks by UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura
Following meeting with Russian Federation Minister of Defense, Sergey Shoigu,
Moscow, 20 April 2018
Question:  During the beginning of the conversation you said that you really supported and you highly evaluated and appreciated the Astana and Sochi processes, how do you think they are going to affect the prospective of the situation? and what contributions are they going to make.
SdeM:  You started with the right word, I am expecting both Astana and Sochi to actually make a contribution to the Geneva process because with His Excellency the Minister we always agreed that, at the end, that is the only internationally recognised process.  So we need to revitalise all three: Make Astana more consistent in de-escalation, make Sochi with its promise to become a reality and Geneva to use it.
This was a useful meeting, as usual, but particularly after this very difficult week, it was important we should meet. 
We need not only military de-escalation but also political de-escalation, internationally.
Thank you.
Transcript of Joint Press Stakeout by UN Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura
and Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Moscow, 20 April 2018
SdeM: Thank you Minister Lavrov, dear friend. I have been asked the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to accelerate a series of consultations following a very difficult and tense week, we never expected this to be so tense, and with a lot of acrimonious and inconclusive meetings of the Security Council, and a potential danger to peace and security - so last week was a difficult one and that’s why I have been involved in Riyadh, in Ankara,  now in Moscow, and tomorrow in Tehran, in order to assess the situation and see how we can lower the temperature. The priority is clearly to lower the temperature.
The Russian and the US military de-conflicting mechanisms, I think you said it, have worked and are still working quite effectively.  I think this endeavour needs to continue, and has been able to avoid much worse consequences.  My understanding is that there has been a useful meeting between the senior Russian and American military and even between your Ambassador in Washington and the National Security Advisor, [John] Bolton.  All this shows that there is an important attention to de-escalation.
Now dear Minister, this is what has happened last week, has not helped Astana, Sochi and Geneva, in spite of what we may think or say, the political process needs to be relaunched and while Astana is important to the de-escalation, Sochi is producing the follow-up to the Constitutional Committee, Geneva is ready to operate, and take on its own part, but we need to revitalise.
Last two points, and shorter ones, the first one is the alleged chemical attack issue has been, and is, a very serious issue, and therefore the UN has been, on our side, strongly wanting to help an accelerated OPCW visit to Douma.  We hope this is taking place  - the sooner the better, and we want them to do their job, like I am sure you want as well.  That will, at least, address the issue about the chemical alleged attack.  The next thing and the same thing is: let’s go and apply pressure and relaunch or revitalise the political process, this is the way we hope to overcome what was a very dangerous and difficult week.
Thank you.
Transcript of Joint Press Stakeout by UN Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura
Following meeting with Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Moscow, 20 April 2018
SdeM: Thank you., thank you Minister Lavrov, thank you for this opportunity. 
We had a very dangerous, and very difficult and very tense week, and the priority for the UN Secretariat as well as for the UN Secretary-General, and therefore for us coming here, and doing this tour d’horizon in various capitals and here in Moscow - the priority is to lower the temperature, the temperature went too high and there was potential of major complications.
Last week there were moments when we were extremely concerned, but I think we have seen that the Russian and the US military de-conflicting mechanism has been working, is working and we hope and we want that to continue working.  This means a lot, because that means limiting the danger of things that can go wrong in a moment when we do have and see very strong political tensions. 
Well on the political tensions, we need a political de-escalation, not only a military de-escalation.  And I hope that will be possible with further discussions.
Now regarding the political process, I am very pleased to hear what you heard and I heard from Minister Lavrov and from Minister Shoigu that in spite of what happened last week, and it is still very recent, there is a strong commitment from the Russian Federation to push forth the political process. If we learned one thing is that all these types of crisis can be avoided if they want and there is a credible political process, and therefore the follow-up to Sochi, the constant work of Astana in de-escalation work and the relaunching of the Geneva discussion based on resolution 2254 and Constitutional Committee - and at least the future elections becomes a priority.
Now regarding the OPCW, which you didn’t refer to, but I will: we are pushing and will continue pushing at the UN Secretariat for OPCW to do its job, to do it as quickly as possible without any interference, because they are on the ground, the UN has done what they can, although they are not part of the UN, in order to make sure that the job is quickly done. It is important that we turn the page on this alleged chemical attacks because we need to go back to the basics - and basics is lower tensions, political process and trying to avoid that Syria becomes an international area of playground of tensions, because frankly neither Syrians deserves it nor frankly does the world. That is why I found our discussions and your intentions on going forward on the political process very important for us, I assure you. 
Thank you.