24 January 202015:34

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during a working meeting with Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Syria Geir Pedersen, Moscow, January 24, 2020


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Mr Pedersen,

We are delighted to see you in Moscow. The first time you visited us in this capacity was on January 21, 2019, almost exactly a year ago.

Over the period that you have headed your office, I believe we (I mean the international community interested in the Syrian settlement) have been able to achieve some very positive shifts.

The situation on the ground is definitely improving. The territory controlled by terrorists continues to shrink. The Syrian government has regained control of a large part of the border with Iraq and Turkey. Efforts are being made to suppress the remnants of terrorist groups both in the Idlib zone and in northeastern Syria.

The second major sphere of our ​​work is the humanitarian part of the settlement process. Here, the continuing terrorist threat I have already mentioned has a direct negative effect. Terrorists are hindering the delivery of humanitarian relief, misappropriating the goods successfully delivered to the relevant regions of Syria. This is something that requires special attention and consideration, including in Geneva, where the humanitarian task force is based. It is essential in the context of restoring the Syrian statehood and creating conditions for the return of refugees to territories controlled by the legitimate government that the international community enables the largest aid delivery possible, especially with the coordinating role of the UN.

However, we can see the obvious bias of some of the Western donors, double standards on their part, as the key Western capitals do not want to send aid to territories controlled by the government, but focus on areas controlled by the opposition, including by radical opposition groups. The second task force in Geneva, the humanitarian affairs group, definitely needs to focus more closely on this situation.

The third track, which will probably require the greatest attention during our talks today, is the political process, and the work of the Constitutional Committee. We value your personal and your team’s approach to creating the conditions for the negotiators to develop a culture of dialogue and trust in each other. This is a very important, integral component of success.

Just like you, we are not overdramatising the fact that there are no extraordinary achievements in just a couple of months after the Constitutional Committee was established. This had not been planned. This is an absolutely natural situation. We will do our best to facilitate your efforts to create the necessary conditions for progress at the next session of the Small Body, which will meet when you consider it possible to schedule it.

So, we indeed have something to talk about.





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