Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at a meeting with Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Moscow, November 24, 2017

Wednesday, 29 November 2017 15:34

Mr de Mistura, dear Staffan, friends,

We highly value this opportunity to compare notes on the efforts that are being made on the path to a peace settlement in Syria. There are many developments which, at first glance, are unfolding concurrently, but should definitely be united under the single objective of meeting the conditions and achieving the goals set out in UN Security Council Resolution 2254. All the efforts that the Russian Federation has taken in recent months, and maybe even couple of years, in connection with many external players and, of course, the UN, have been aimed precisely at this.

We are grateful to you personally, to your entire team, and the UN Secretary General, for supporting the Astana process, which was originally developed in response to an impasse in the Syria peace process after our American partners from Barack Obama’s team failed to deliver on agreements reached in September 2016 on separating terrorists from opposition members. The Russian-Iranian-Turkish partnership, which dates back to that period, allowed us to create de-escalation zones which had a tangible beneficial effect on the situation “on the ground”. It was perhaps this partnership which facilitated the meeting in Astana, where, for the first time in the history of the Syrian conflict, delegates of the Syrian Government sat down at the same table with opposition groups, some of which are carrying out armed attacks against the Syrian army. Throughout all the months during which the Astana process was unfolding, with the participation and cooperation of your team, Mr de Mistura, we could see the framework which was universally agreed upon at the UN Security Council and we tried to move towards ensuring that we identify all the appropriate solutions within this framework, during every stage of our endeavours. We actively contributed to Saudi Arabia’s efforts, with your support, in order to unite the opposition, in all its dimensions and capacities – external and internal – on a constructive platform which would fully comply with requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communiqué of June 2012. Our consultations with our Iranian and Turkish partners regarding preparations for a tripartite summit in Sochi on November 22, are based on these criteria and principles. At the outset, I would like to make it clear that the statement, which was approved by the three presidents and published as a UN Security Council document, echoes the key provisions of the Russia-US top-level statement which President Putin and President Trump approved on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Danang. Both documents underline the central importance of Resolution 2254 and the Geneva process. All the efforts, which we have undertaken and continue to undertake, are aimed specifically at stimulating a genuinely inclusive intra-Syrian dialogue, under the aegis of the UN and on the basis of the criteria agreed upon at the UN Security Council.

We are convinced that the National Dialogue Congress on Syrian settlement can become an important step towards launching a truly intra-Syrian inclusive dialogue, unburdened by the artificial demands of a particular faction of the opposition, which are at variance with the UN Security Council’s criteria. The presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran supported and approved this idea at their recent meeting in Sochi.

Thank you once again for accepting our invitation. I very much hope that, during your stay in Moscow, we will be able to share our assessments of the meaningful talks which took place in Sochi as part of the Russian-Iranian-Turkish meeting, as well as the impressions that you have about the conference held in Saudi Arabia on uniting the Syrian opposition. Our representative also attended this event, as an observer. It is important to exchange opinions. I’m confident that the talks here, at the Foreign Ministry, in addition to the upcoming meetings at the Defence Ministry that you have planned, will serve the common cause of settling the Syrian crisis in the interests of the Syrian people, in all their diversity, rather than in the interest of whatever other party.

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