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Transcript of an interview with the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi (Geneva, 22 August 2013)

Transcript of an interview with the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi (Geneva, 22 August 2013)
23 August 2013

UNTV: Your office has moved to Geneva. Can I ask why the team has come to Geneva?

Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and League of Arab States for Syria, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi: We were planning to come to Geneva for the last stage of preparation for the Geneva II conference and the idea was for this conference to take place in September.

That is why we planned to come now and I think it was very convenient to do that. Whether the conference takes place in September or not remains to be seen.

UNTV: With recent events on the ground in Syria, how important is it that that conference happens quickly?

JSRS: You know, Syria is without any doubt the biggest threat to peace and security in the world today.

What is happening now on the ground with this story about the outrageous alleged use of chemical weapons, with the destruction of the country that has been taking place for two years, with the spread of the problem outside of Syria, through the flow of refugees, and also the involvement of neighbouring countries in one way or another in the conflict – it is indeed now the biggest threat to peace and security.

I think there is an agreement that the declaration of the communiqué of Geneva on 30th June 2012, contains the ingredients that would make a settlement possible.

The problem is that the parties that are involved in this civil war, each one of them thinks that they can win militarily. We believe, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and a lot of other people believe, that there is no military solution; no side is going to win.

There is only a political solution and the earlier we work on it, the better.

UNTV: The last time you spoke in Geneva you said you were embarrassed that you could not get everybody around the negotiating table. How much closer are you in getting Geneva II to happen?

JSRS: We are near in the sense that I think that we could say that the international community is now close enough to an agreement that a political solution is the only way. The parties are not there yet. But I think that they, you know, the political solution was rejected outright by the parties. Both sides were saying no, you know, the Government was saying we're fighting terrorism and that is all. The opposition were saying we have a very unjust, cruel, oppressive regime, we want to get rid of it and we can and we shall.
Now both speak of the possibility of a political solution.

UNTV: Have events yesterday, has that changed the dimensions of the discussions?

JSRS: I think that the Syrian crisis is undoubtedly today the biggest threat to peace and security in the world.

What has happened, this story, this allegation, that chemical weapons have been used a few kilometres from the heart of Damascus as a matter of fact emphasizes the importance of this crisis and the danger it represents, not only for the Syrian people, not only for the region, but for the world.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has been saying for a long time now, I think every time he speaks about Syria he says there is no military solution to this conflict. There is only a political solution. And the political solution, the ingredients to make a political solution are already there in the final communiqué of the conference that took place in Geneva on 30th June 2012, more than a year ago.

UNTV: Could you put a date or could you give us any hint of when Geneva II might happen?

JSRS: No. You know the Americans and the Russians are meeting at the end of the month on the 28th. We are discussing with them the possibility of another meeting, a tripartite meeting: Americans, Russians and the United Nations.

Then the General Assembly is taking place, where there is no doubt that Syria will be discussed left, right and centre.

Earlier than that, on the 5th and 6th of September, the G20 are meeting in Saint Petersburg and there is no doubt that Syria will be one of the issues that will be discussed, although it is supposed to be an economic summit.