Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria Geir Pedersen, Moscow, September 3, 2020
Mr Pedersen, colleagues,
We are delighted to welcome you to Russia, especially considering that we are meeting only a few days after the largely successful third session of the Constitutional Committee’s Drafting Commission in Geneva. Not all of the problems have been settled yet, and not all the necessary arrangements regarding our further work have been made, but overall, as you said at a news conference following the session in Geneva, it was a highly useful and fruitful meeting.
Russia as a sovereign state and one of the guarantors of the Astana process will continue to support your efforts to help the Syrians themselves come to an agreement on constitutional reform in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
In addition to monitoring the political process, we are also looking closely at what is happening on the ground, where we are working together with our Astana format partners to help the Syrian Government and all Syrians eliminate international terrorism in the country and safeguard the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic.
It is obvious that the humanitarian issues in Syria need to be given comprehensive attention. The country is facing serious problems, including in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. We wholeheartedly support the appeal made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to abandon unilateral sanctions in the context of the pandemic and we regret that our Western partners have turned a deaf ear to it.
The problem of refugees and displaced persons is still with us today. We believe it necessary to redouble efforts to help the Syrians who want to return to their home country, especially since this will ease the unbearable burden on the host countries, primarily Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
All these topics constitute the essence of your mandate, which we enthusiastically support. Today we have an opportunity to listen to what you think about the current situation and how you expect it to change tomorrow.