Transcript of the press conference by Joint Special Envoy Annan - Meeting of Action Group on Syria - Geneva, 30 June 2012
30 June 2012
Press conference by Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan
following the conclusion of the Action Group Meeting
JSE: Thank you very much. Good evening. I was going to say good afternoon but I realized we are at the beginning of the evening. It has been a long day for all of us and I want to thank you for your patience, and to say that it was also longer than I had expected, but was a productive day. And I suspect you all heard my concluding remarks in the Chamber, and the communiqué is out. So let’s go straight to your questions since we don’t have much time. And the floor is open.
Q: Mr. Kofi Annan, what is the future of Mr. Assad in your declaration. Is his future linked to the future of the political process or can he leave before that?
JSE: [inaudible] document is quite clear. I think the document is quite clear. The document makes it clear that we have provided guidelines and principles to assist the Syrian parties as they move ahead with their transition, and establish a transition Government, and go through the changes that will be required. And the kind of decision you have posed will be left to them.
Q: Do you feel that you personally fail in this mission?
JSE: I’m not sure I understand the import of the question. First of all, mediation is a process – it’s not an event that you can make happen just like that. And I think we are moving on with the meetings that we had today. And there is a tendency, around the world and in some quarters, sometimes, to put the blame where it does not belong. When you have this sort of conflict, the emphasis and the efforts must be to get the protagonists to pull back, to stop the use of violence, to commit to engage and, of course, you sometimes need a mediator to help them. Some have a tendency to make the mediator the scapegoat. But I think your emphasis should be where it should be, and we should focus on those who need to take action to make a real difference. And we are working to help them, and the international community met here today specifically for that purpose.
Q: Mr. Annan, moving forward, what is the next step, what is the timetable now?
JSE: As I said a few minutes ago, we will engage with all the parties, and the Governments which came to the meeting have also offered to help and engage. They will use their influence for the parties – be it the Government or the opposition – to encourage and steer them in the right direction and, hopefully, get the violence to stop, which is the most urgent now, and get people back to the table.
Q: Mr. Annan, if I understand you clearly you are stating that members of the current Government regime in Syria can take part in any transitional Government. Are you saying that members who have been engaged in the repression and, as the Syrian opposition said, have blood on their hands, can take part in this transitional Government?
JSE: I think people who have blood on their hands are hopefully not the only people in Syria. I think the Government will have to be formed through discussion, negotiations, and by mutual consent. And I will doubt that the Syrians – who have fought so hard for their independence, to be able to say how they’re governed and who governs them – will select people with blood on their hands to lead them.
Q: Sir Annan, you haven’t mentioned anything about how you’re going to reinforce the implementation of these recommendations.
JSE: I think when you look at the communiqué you will get ideas as to how we intend to proceed. And the Council, the Security Council, is also fully seized of this matter, and we have now tried to bring the international community together. They had told me they support my effort and they showed some unity in April, when they approved two resolutions. But I’m challenging them to move that cooperation, that unity, to another level. And I think we saw the beginning of that today. And if they work together, collectively and individually, to encourage the parties to do what needs to be done, we will be able to help the Syrians much more than we’ve done up until today.
Q: Mr. Annan, my question is on Mr. Hague’s proposal of having a resolution under Chapter VII. In your plan, is this required? Or is not an issue anymore, not a target of your consensus?
JSE: That is a decision for the Council. The Council is seized of the matter. At any stage they can decide to pass another resolution – enhance the mandate, add to the mandate – under Chapter VI or VII. So that is an issue that the Council will have to deal with. There have been suggestions from other quarters – for example the League of Arab States – suggesting that parts of the mandate should be under Chapter VII. But that is an issue for the Security Council.
Q: Monsieur Annan, dans votre discours inaugural vous avez souligné l’importance des puissances externes dans l’aggravation de ce problème syrien. Dans la résolution que vous venez de présenter vous laissez aux Syriens le soin de choisir, de résoudre le problème le plus crucial, celui de ce gouvernement transitionnel. Est-ce que vous trouvez que dans l’état actuel de l’aggravation de la haine entre les factions en Syrie cela serait possible ?
JSE: Cela ne va pas être très facile mais oui, c’est possible. Evidemment, je suis obligé de travailler avec, de faciliter les choses, et ce n’est pas une tâche facile, mais cela ne sera pas la première fois que les gens se sont battus et puis, à la fin, se réuniront dans un gouvernement. Cela ne sera pas facile mais c’est faisable.
Q: Monsieur Kofi Annan, êtes-vous un homme heureux aujourd’hui ? Parce qu’on a vu, avec votre déclaration, l’applaudissement de membres du Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU, alors qu’on disait que vos propositions avaient fait un flop pendant un moment. Qu’est-ce qui a fait qu’il y a eu une évolution et un changement aujourd’hui ?
JSE: Je ne veux pas dire que suis heureux. Je suis toujours, si vous voulez, triste, ou bien un peu triste, à cause de la situation actuelle sur le terrain. Ce n’est pas une question de Kofi Annan, ce n’est pas une question d’amour propre pour moi, mais la situation sur le terrain, avec les gens qui sont en train de souffrir, avec les tueries qui continuent. Mais c’était satisfaisant d’avoir eu, à Genève, tous ces états, et les cinq permanents, qui ont aussi tenu une approche. Donc ça peut faciliter la tâche, mais je ne veux pas dire que suis heureux, heureux. Mais je suis content qu’on ait pu faire ça aujourd’hui.
Q: Sir, as we all know this meeting began under the shadow of divergences between various participants, particularly China and Russia on the one side and the others on the other. Do you think this meeting has done anything to iron out those divergences?
JSE: It was a great opportunity to build on what happened today and to encourage Governments to work together and honestly, as I have always maintained, its when the international community speaks with one voice that that voice becomes powerful and has an impact and I think we are seeing the international community coming together and the unity and co-operation can be lifted to a higher level and is beginning now.
Q: Bonjour quelle chance vous donnez à ce gouvernement, qui va être mis en place, de réussir cette période de transition ?
JSE: On va d’abord mettre le gouvernement en place. Voir qui est impliqué la situation sur le terrain mais j’espère que le gouvernement qu’on va mettre en place aura le temps et la capacité d’accomplir ces tâches. Les taches de transition qui peuvent impliquer une constitution et des élections ou un tas de choses. Donc il faut un gouvernement qui est respecté qui est capable de faire tout ça et j’espère que les Syriens vont réussir.
Q: Oui bonjour je voudrais demander à Monsieur Annan quelle est à son sens ce soir le principal résultat de cette réunion d’aujourd’hui ?
JSE: Principalement on a pu réunir les membres de Conseil avec les pays des régions donc on a pu souligner que la question syrienne implique région et la communauté internationale. On doit travailler ensemble au lieu d’avoir compétition entre nous pour pouvoir aider et donc je crois que c’est un message important. En plus ils s’engagent de s’impliquer collectivement et individuellement et ils vont travailler avec moi - je peux leur demander de passer des messages, je peux demander de faire pression sur telle ou telle partie donc je crois que c’est un atout important.
Q: I want to ask about the future of the UN military observers in Syria, they will come back, to Syria?
JSE: The mission never left. They are there, impatient to resume the activities when the circumstances permit. It was far too dangerous for unarmed men and women to continue the work they were doing In fact, General Mood, the head of the mission, was here in Geneva with us today. I don't know how many of you heard him say - we are not going anywhere, we are still on the ground. The Security Council will make an assessment as to the future of the mission. That assessment will be made fairly soon, in the next couple of weeks, but they are there and will resume their activities as soon as the circumstances permit.
Q: Good afternoon. I would like to know if you have a proposal, or some of the participants had a proposal, on a date and a place for a next meeting or if you will just wait for the developments in the next days or weeks?
JSE: The Action Group, and as the name connotes, wants to be active and we hope, produce
d action - what we have agreed to be is to be a sort of a standing group and we have agreed to meet as and when required or in case of emergency. We haven’t fixed a date for the next meeting but developments will dictate that.
Q: Mr. Annan, can you… Mr. Assad has said he doesn’t want guidance, he doesn’t want help, he doesn’t want advice from anybody including his good friends. So could you give us a sense of what the sequence of steps might be once you go to Mr. Assad and he says “no”, exactly what happens then?
JSE: I am not making the assumption you are making. In these sorts of situations, leaders and people engaging in it say things today that may change completely tomorrow. And sometimes messages are issued and the intended target may be different from those who receive them. I expect the Syrian parties to cooperate. I expect them to understand the gravity of the situation. I expect them to understand that the strong transformational wind which is blowing today cannot be resisted -- at least it can not be resisted for long – and that change has to come. And I would expect cooperation. It will be difficult, it is not going to be easy to get them to the table and get them to cooperate or to convince them that the time for talking has come. But it will come.
Q: Just to follow up on that question, will Bashar al-Assad still be in the presidency at the end of this year or might he find himself in front of the ICC?
JSE: Sorry, I left my crystal ball at home.
Q: Mr. Annan, as far as I understand, you have not agreed on a time table to implement your plan. Do you think this would have been too risky or why didn’t you do that?
JSE: Are you talking about six point plan or the transition principles and guidelines we put out today?
Q: The guidelines you issued today, that you just read out. There is no sort of time table so we don’t know when what should be achieved?
JSE: I think on that we will need to also consult the parties, the Government and the Syrians, we need to engage them. We have given them the guidelines which we hope will be helpful for them. It is not something we are going to impose. It is something we are expecting them to embrace and to help them see a path forward. So we will discuss this with them and I think the question of timetable and timelines will come out of that discussion. But I hope it will not be a period that is not overly extended. And I hope it is something we can move forward on and see real progress within a year. In a way, it is an answer to – was it Tom from Reuters? – when I said I didn’t have a crystal ball. But I hope that within a year we will see real results.
Q: I would like to know, do you plan to go to Damascus to explain to the parties this new plan, this transitional process?
JSE: That is not excluded and it is highly likely I will go. I have not set a date yet but yes, I will have to go.
Q: M. Annan qu’attendez-vous concrètement maintenant du Président Assad ? Concretely what do you expect from President Assad?
JSE: We had agreed at one of our meetings that when the time comes for me to ask him to designate an empowered interlocutor for us to continue the process, he would be prepared to do so. And that is one of the first things, when the process starts, he would be expected to do and the opposition would be expected to also name their interlocutor so that we can start the ball rolling.