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Transcript of press conference by Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi - Geneva, 11 January 2013

10 January 2013

Transcript of press conference
by Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi
Geneva, 11 January 2013

JSRS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am very, very grateful to you for your patience and I apologize that we could not even give you a time when we would be speaking to you. But we have just finished our meetings and I am happy to speak to you on behalf of the three delegations and say the following:

Today, we held the second round of talks with United States Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. We are all very, very deeply aware of the immense suffering of the Syrian people, which has gone for far too long. We all stressed the need for a speedy end to the bloodshed, to the destruction and all forms of violence in Syria. We stressed again that in our view, there was no military solution to this conflict. We underscored the necessity to reach a political solution based on the Geneva Communiqué of the 30th of June 2012. As you know, a key element of that Communiqué is the governing body which should exercise full executive powers during its existence. And we agreed that full executive powers means all the powers of state. I will continue to engage all Syrian parties as well as other stakeholders in the region and internationally. I plan to brief the Security Council later this month on my efforts, including the consultations I held with the Syrian parties, that is the government and representatives of the opposition in Damascus and elsewhere. Thank you very much and I will take a couple of questions.

Q: Have you agreed on anything today that would lead to any kind of improvement of the situation in Syria and if so, is there anything that you think can be implemented on the ground? And if so, can it be done in the entire country and how quickly?

JSRS: If you are asking me whether a solution is around the corner, I am not sure that is the case. What I am certain of is that there is an absolute necessity for people to continue to work for such a peaceful solution, and that it is the wider international community, especially members of the Security Council, that can really create the opening that is necessary to start effectively solving the problem.

Q: [in Arabic, unofficial translation] How do you see the comments by the Foreign Ministry of Syria today accusing you of being biased? Will this affect your work in the future? Thank you Sir.

JSRS: [in Arabic, unofficial translation] I saw the statement by the Syrian Government. They expressed their point of view, but at the same time they said that they are ready to continue cooperating with me.

Q: Mr. Brahimi, you said that the Geneva Communiqué will serve as a basis for a peaceful solution but one point in that communiqué says that members of the transitional government will not exclude members of the current Syrian government. But in a recent interview you have said that Al-Assad family has ruled too long and you are reported to say that he does not have a place in the new transitional government. What did you mean, why did you say this?

JSRS: I said the Syrians are saying 40 years is enough, the Syrians; (reporter interrupts..) that’s what I think I said. If you know better what I said than me, you know, don’t ask me the question. I said the Syrian people are saying that 40 years is enough. And I never said that there will be no place for members of the government, I never said that.

Q: In light of the comments that the Syrians made yesterday accusing you of being biased, can you - and if so, how can you carry out your mission?

JSRS: Well, you know, you come to the United Nations and we will negotiate that with you.

Q [in Arabic, unofficial translation]: If you please Mr. Brahimi, you say that the Geneva Declaration is still the basis of a solution to the Syrian crisis, but you know that there are conflicting interpretations of the Declaration.

JSRS: [in Arabic, unofficial translation]: I believe that what we said today is that, one of the main points in the Geneva [declaration] - of course there are lots of points, like they say, the devil is in the details, and that these details will bring out many devils, these have to be defeated - according to our progress today, we said that this transitional government that will be in charge during the transitional period only, it is not a government that will stay for a long time, it will direct the transitional period that will end with the holding of the elections that will be agreed upon. During this transitional period, the transitional government has to enjoy complete powers and these complete powers are those of the whole State.

Q : Etes vous plus optimiste ou pessimiste après ces discussions?

JSRS: Vous savez, l’optimisme et le pessimisme sont difficiles à définir. Disons qu’il y a quand même une détermination de la part des participants à cette réunion et aussi de la part de beaucoup d’autres à ne pas baisser les bras, à continuer à essayer de trouver une ouverture pour commencer à aider les syriens à sortir de la situation terrible dans laquelle ils se trouvent à l’heure actuelle. Mais bon, est-ce qu’on est plus optimiste que pessimiste ou un peu moins…ce n’est pas tellement important.

Q: (inaudible)

JSRS: I think that in their view, not all the people who are in the government or in the institutions of state can be excluded. I think they have said publicly that they don’t exclude everybody. And that is also a matter of negotiations in the future.
Q: After today’s meeting, did the Russian government agree with your assessment that there is no role for Mr. Assad in the transitional government in Syria?

JSRS: We did not discuss my statement to the BBC.

Q: Do you feel that the Russians are willing to contribute more or in a different way, to solve the situation in Syria?

JSRS: I am absolutely certain that the Russians are as preoccupied as I am, as preoccupied as the Americans are, by the bad situation that exists in Syria and its continuing deterioration and I am absolutely certain that they would like to contribute to its solution.

Q: Did the Russians come with any new proposals specifically on political transition?

JSRS: You know we discussed a lot of things - they had ideas and others had also ideas but the result of our discussions is what I have just read out to you.

Thank you very much.