Good afternoon. I want to make a short statement today to bring you up to date. For the moment I will probably not take questions because there are many details that I would like to be able to elaborate on at a second opportunity [when you will be able to ask questions].
I am in a process, as you know, of consultations and the reason is that we are intensifying our efforts to facilitate the way forward on the Syrian political process as mandated by the Security Council and resolution 2254.
I have just returned from consultations in various countries, in particular in Turkey, Iran and Egypt; as you know I have been also before consulting many Arab leaders when I was at the Arab League Summit, with the Secretary-General. And then, I have been recently meeting senior US officials in Brussels; and I have been in telephone contacts with many others, in particular including obviously Russia and a number of European countries.
The Secretary-General, with whom I was in touch yesterday also, is closely following and supporting the consultations underway.
In the context of efforts to facilitate the establishment of a constitutional committee, as called for in the Sochi final declaration, there has been some movements and I would like to share them with you.
Recently, the Government of Syria officially conveyed to me, having also, I presume, discussed it with both Russia and Iran, a list of 50 names. I have conveyed to the Government of Syria my acknowledgement and welcomed this step. I have conveyed to Russia and Iran my appreciation for their work to encourage and help this movement. I look forward, therefore, to intensifying contacts with the Government of Syria, on this issue and other issues.
I have since had contacts with the opposition representatives and a number of countries. When I was in Turkey and in Egypt, I appreciated the support of those countries and their advice and counsel. And the same goes for a number of other countries. Serious work is, while we are talking, ongoing in order to prepare an opposition list, and I think there is a need for progress on that soon, and we may hear it soon.
As the Sochi Final Statement makes clear, besides government and opposition, it will be important that independents, civil society, experts, and women - and as you know we have been strongly recommending at least 30% of women - all find their place into this constitutional committee. We must have an inclusive process.
These elements must come together in a constitutional committee. And I believe, God willing, that ultimately they can and will end up in a Syrian-owned - because that is the real purpose - Syrian-led, and UN-facilitated - that’s our role - constitutional committee. The process will need the consent of the Syrians. My task is, therefore, one of facilitation. But I need the support, counsel and advice of many, and I am proceeding with a deliberate speed.
As announced yesterday, I have invited senior officials from Iran, Russia and Turkey to meet with me here at UN Headquarters in Geneva early next week - 18th, 19th. These were the co-sponsors of the Sochi congress that produced the Final Statement on a constitutional commission, and it was Sochi which called for it to be established with UN facilitation in Geneva. The Secretary-General asked me to be present in Sochi based on solid understandings. So, I want to discuss with Iran, Russia and Turkey some preliminary thinking – and hear their own views too – on how the Sochi Final Statement can be given effect to, and to seek their further guidance and support. I want to also very much hear the opinion of the Syrian government and of the opposition separately. I want to add here that I already did have very useful and in-depth discussions in Tehran on all aspects of these matters.
I also want to inform you that I am inviting senior officials from France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States, in alphabetical order, the so-called Small Group of countries - to Geneva for consultations the week thereafter here at UN headquarters in Geneva, as the previous meetings are taking place at UN headquarters in Geneva. I want to discuss matters with them, and hear their own views too. Their counsel and backing is also important for the UN effort. And the United States has already confirmed its own attendance for the date of the 25th of this month, so we are aiming at that date.
And I will also be consulting obviously with other countries because they are all interested and involved in wishing the best for this outcome.
As we proceed methodically and carefully in the task of facilitating the establishment of a Syrian-owned and Syrian-led constitutional committee, we recall that this is a key building block of a revitalized political process. I believe from all my consultations that there are real points in common about seeing the political process called for in Security Council resolution 2254 in order to move forward. And I would hope that some bridges can be built with care in that regard. We saw recent important consultations between Chancellor Merkel and President Putin and then thereafter between President Macron and President Putin, and many other consultations that you are perhaps not been seeing because they have not been as public as the previous ones. And I particularly valued recently the counsel and insights of President Al Sisi of Egypt on this point in my in-depth discussion, which I just had with him in Cairo.
So, bottom lines:
- This is a Syrian-owned, Syrian-led, UN-facilitated effort that we are seeking and intending to carry forward.
- We are seeing movement, and we will keep seeking more of it.
- I don’t expect, let’s be frank, a major breakthrough. But I am confident progress is possible and there is something moving in that direction and we need to capitalize on it.
- We are focussing on moving forward on a constitutional committee and that’s our purpose, there are many other things that are important but this is the one we are focussing on.
- We also want to see continued bridging of international positions in support of Geneva and the wider political agenda and resolution 2254. This bridging is becoming more and more important, and potentially more and more possible.
- We have to do serious work, we recognize it, all of us, on these points with the countries coming to Geneva soon, both, and with the Syrian parties, very much, and I want to engage them seriously and with full respect of their concerns and sensitivities, the government in particular and the opposition, and the other parts of the civil society of Syria.
Let me conclude with a message, if you allow me, to all Syrians: Syrian people, women and men, we are working, wallahi, believe me, night and day, and we have been doing it for four years, and my predecessor have been doing it for many years before, to bring or try to bring about a meaningful political process, which is the only way to finally end this conflict and turn towards a better future for Syria and the Syrians. In that spirit, I want you, Syrian people, to believe that we are determined in this and want to wish you, with this message, Eid Mubarak.