Transcript of press conference by Joint Special Representative for Syria (JSRS), Lakhdar Brahimi, Geneva, 15 February 2014
15 February 2014
JSRS: Good day to you all, thank you for coming on a Saturday. We’ve just held our last meeting for this session. It was as laborious as all the meetings we have had but we agreed on an agenda for the next round, when it does take place. The agenda is of four points that we have been discussing forever now - but I had proposed before the beginning of the second round, in writing to the two parties, and that is that: one, violence and terrorism; two, the TGB [Transitional Governing Body]; three, national institutions; and four, national reconciliation and national debate.
I also proposed… as you are aware, the government side considers that the most important issue is the issue of terrorism; the opposition side considers that the most important issue is the TGB. We suggested right from the beginning that the two sides should reassure one another that their pet subject, and both are very, very important subjects, will be discussed. So we suggested that we agree now – so that we don’t lose another week or ten days as we have this time – we suggested that the first day will be reserved, will be set for discussion on violence, ending violence and combating terrorism; and the second day would be reserved to a discussion on the TGB, it being extremely clear that one day will not be enough to finish the discussion on violence and terrorism, and one day will not be enough on discussing the TGB. Unfortunately the government has refused, which raises the suspicion of the opposition that in fact the government doesn’t’ want to discuss the TGB at all.
In that case, I have suggested that it’s not good for the process, it’s not good for Syria that we come back for another round and fall in the same trap that we have been struggling with this week and most of the first round. So I think it is better that every side goes back and reflect and take their responsibility: do they want this process to take place or not? I will do the same, I will go and speak to the Secretary General. I think that we need also to discuss with our partners in the trilateral, hopefully through a meeting between Ban Ki-moon, John Kerry and Serguei Lavrov. And also I think I will, at some point, I will also brief the P5 and the Security Council as a whole.
I am very, very sorry, and I apologize to the Syrian people that their hopes which were very, very high that something will happen here - I think that, you know, the little that has been achieved in Homs gave them even more hope that maybe this is the beginning of the coming out of this horrible crisis they are in – I apologize to them that on these two rounds we haven’t help them very much.
I very, very much hope that the two sides will reflect and think a little bit better and come back ready to engage seriously on how to implement the Geneva Communiqué. The Geneva Communiqu é is not an end in itself. The Geneva Communiqué helps the two sides, and us sitting between them, to start the long road towards ending this crisis.
So I hope that this time of reflection will lead the government side in particular to reassure the other side that when they speak of implementing the Geneva Communiqué they do mean that a TGB exercising full executive powers will be the main objective to follow. Of course ending violence, combating terrorism is extremely important, indispensable. But I think that every side has to be convinced that yes, we are going to implement all the elements in the Communiqué.
As I told you, I’ll see with the Secretary General when is the best time for me to go and see him. And I am sure that the parties are going to see their respective principals and leaders and we will hear from one another in a not too distant future I hope.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Q : M. Brahimi, chacun d’entre nous dans cette salle sait que la délégation syrienne prend ses directives du gouvernement syrien qui se trouve en Syrie. Et vous en tant que médiateur des Nations Unies et envoyé spécial pour la Syrie, vous connaissez donc les références de chacune des délégations. Donc s’il vous plaît, quelle est la référence de la délégation de l’opposition et de qui prend-elle ses directives ?
JSRS: Pourquoi vous ne leur demandez pas ?
Q : Je vous le demande à vous en tant que médiateur.
JSRS : Allons-y , deuxième question.
Q : Thank you. Mr. Brahimi, at this moment, Sir, what is your message to Mr. Assad?
JSRS : I don’t have any message for Mr. Assad as a man. My message to everybody who is involved in this terrible crisis is to think of the Syrian people, to think of the immense suffering that has been imposed on the Syrian people, the destruction that has taken place in Syria, and to think of what anyone can contribute to pull Syria out of the ditch in which it has fallen.
Q : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, today in this last meeting, is there a clearer vision regarding the third session, the dates? Nothing is certain, but will it be in a short period of time or in a long period? With the passage of time, we see more victims in Syria.
JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Yes, of course, people are dying, the country is being destroyed. If this track aims at helping the Syrian people, then of course, the faster we achieve tangible results, the better. However, as I believe I made clear, everybody needs to go back to their base and we will contact each other to determine the coming date.
Q: If you don’t get a firm commitment from both delegations to engage on the agenda that you have outlined in the next few days, will there be a third round or will you come back with another agenda?
JSRS: I don’t know. At least we have agreed on an agenda, but we have also to agree on how we tackle that agenda. I very much hope that there will be a third round, the earlier the better.
Q: Sorry, you said you agreed on an agenda, but you said the government had not agreed. I ‘m not clear. Did they agree to talk on TGB?
JSRS: What they say - and I’m sure they’ll explain that to you much better than I do - but what I think they have said is that they want first to arrive to some understanding on the first point before they will ever speak about the second. And what I‘ve been telling them, is that the other side are very suspicious that they in fact do not want to discuss the TGB, and that to reassure them why don’t we have one day on the violence and terrorism and the second day…and then you know things will be simpler. But they have refused that.
Q : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Please could you confirm or not what was said yesterday about the Russian proposal to create four working groups, each working group to speak of one of the items on the agenda?
JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) I have not heard anything about this.
Q. : Mr Brahimi, sorry, I haven’t understood one thing, because you said that in the third round the first day it will be violence and terrorism, the second day it will be a transitional governing body, and now you say that official delegation refused this agenda. So it’s refused or not?
JSRS : No, they have accepted the agenda: point one, point two, point three, point four. The manner in which this will be addressed, that is what they have rejected.
Q : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Please correct me if I am wrong, I felt a certain bitterness in your voice and we understand the message addressed to the Syrian people. After the negotiations yesterday with the Russians and the Americans, do you still have faith that they can put pressure on both parties and maybe the Security Council can force them to negotiate? And what could possibly happen and could Lakhdar Brahimi threaten to resign?
JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) I believe the Russians and the Americans are the partners of the United Nations and important members of the Security Council. There is no doubt - and I have said repeatedly- that the United Nations, the Russian Federation and the United States , none of them can turn a blind eye to this huge crisis in Syria. Therefore, of course, there will be work between the UN and these two countries. We wish to expand the circle and we always work to expand the circle in order to deal with this big crisis.
Thank you very much.