Transcript of press conference by Joint Special Representative for Syria (JSRS) Lakhdar Brahimi, Geneva, 11 February 2014
11 February 2014
(Near verbatim transcript)
JSRS : Good afternoon everyone. I’m not sure that we’re going to meet everyday as we did the previous time, but I will certainly come every time I have something to tell you. Today I don’t have much to tell you except that the beginning of this week is as laborious as it was the first week. We are not making much progress. One of your colleagues said that I needed tons of patience. I have them. So, we will do our very best to make this process take off. Of course, for it to really take off we need cooperation from both sides here and lot of support from outside.
On Friday, we are having a tri-lateral meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov from Russia, and Under-Secretary of State Wendy Sherman from the United States. Next week or a bit later, but certainly fairly soon, I will go to New York to report to the Secretary-General and also, most probably, to the Security Council. As I said, one of your colleagues said I have tons of patience and I confirm that I do, but the Syrian people don’t have that much patience and we all owe it to them, we all owe it to the Syrian people, to move a little bit faster than we are doing. You know that Homs can be called a success that has been six months in the making. Six long months, to get a couple of hundred people - no a little bit more than that - about 800 people out, and a little bit of food in. And there are lots of other places that are besieged, where nothing has happened. And Homs has been a success, I hope, but it was extremely risky. Our colleagues, United Nations people and also the admirable young people from the Syrian Red Crescent, volunteers all of them, took a lot of risks. The car in which the United Nations Representative in Syria, Resident Representative in Syria, has been almost completely destroyed while he was in - he and colleagues - were in. So, one appeals really to everyone to make this process a reality and help Syria out of the nightmare its people have been living through for now three years. I don’t think I have any much more to add. I will take a couple of questions.
Q. : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Could we have a few clarifications regarding Friday’s meeting with the US and Russia? Why the choice of the day, the last day of this week of negotiations? Also I asked Mr. Makdad a few minutes ago and he said that you did not seriously consult with him about this meeting and that they do not agree to this meeting.
JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) The trilateral meeting has been held periodically in Geneva for the past year and two-months and we have not consulted anybody before and we did not consult anybody this time. However, we informed everybody of the holding of this meeting. It is a consultative meeting between Russia and the United States, as the two initiating states, and myself. So it is a routine meeting . We chose Friday, as you know these are very busy people and finding an appropriate day is not always easy.
Q. : Mr. Brahimi, you’ve been talking a lot about the pace of these meetings, and a lot of media reports have said that it’s very slow, at the slowest pace. Are you still happy with the timeline and the time frame that we’re going forward with?
JSRS : No. I mean I’m urging everybody to speed up, except those who kill people. They shouldn’t speed up.
Q. : (unofficial translation from Arabic) It seems that there is a divergence in the priorities between the two delegations. The government wants to begin with the first point of the Geneva Communique. As for the opposition, it wants to deal with paragraph 8 , which is the transitional governing body. My question is: is the order in the Geneva Communique haphazard and since there is a divergence, who decides what the priorities are?
JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) This is one of those questions…The memorandum I sent to both parties before coming here took into consideration this difference between the two sides. And I suggested that we speak in parallel about the two issues because they are the two main important issues: violence and terrorism, this is what the Syrian people want to put an end to, isn’t that so? And how can this end without an agreement on the steps to be taken on the future for the country? They are both important matters and we can deal with both in parallel. So I believe this is enough as an answer.
Q. : A follow-up question to that one. They both seem to in all the sessions want to talk, the Government about terrorism, and the Opposition about the transitional body. Is it time for you to impose an agenda on them?
JSRS : I’m not sure whether I can impose an agenda on people who don’t want to, you know, how can you, put a gun on their heads? You know, it is their country. This is a huge responsibility they have. They come here at the initiative of Russia and America, with the support I think of the entire world, and everybody is looking at them, most of all the people of Syria. I think we know a little bit what the people of Syria are thinking. The people of Syria are thinking: “Please, get something going that will stop this nightmare and this injustice that is inflicted on the Syrian people”. They’ll have to listen at some stage and the earlier the better.
Q. : Mr. Brahimi, what will be the agenda tomorrow? What are you planning to discuss tomorrow, whether the meeting will be with the two parties or the separate parties, and what are you planning? Maybe you could tell us something about the agenda that will be on the discussions.
JSRS : I’ll tell you tomorrow afternoon.
Q. : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Many papers have been circulated regarding the agenda. One of the paper says: one, cessation of violence and counter-terrorism; secondly, the TGB; three, state institutions; and four, national dialogue. Is this true? As for lifting the siege , I have not seen that item?
JSRS : (unofficial translation from Arabic) Discussing the lifting of the siege is a step that augurs good faith between the two parties. We always call for discussing these matters and our colleagues in Damascus are also working for that continuously. We would like to have a political support from here. I think the will is there but the areas where to start is a matter that is not clear.
Q: (unofficial translation from Arabic) So the work is in Syria, not in Geneva?
JSRS: (unofficial translation from Arabic) Yes, the work is always in Syria, here we only talk.