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Press Remarks by UN Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, in Astana, Kazakhstan

24 January 2017

I want to start by paying tribute on behalf of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the hosts of this International Meeting.  Kazakhstan, under the leadership of President Nazarbayev, has provided a remarkable contribution to our efforts to push for peace in Syria. 

Let me also thank the sponsors of the Meeting – Iran, the Russian Federation and Turkey, for their determination to build on their achievements of last month when they assumed the responsibility of guarantors of a ceasefire regime in Syria. 

Most importantly, like I did yesterday in the plenary session, I want to acknowledge with great appreciation the delegations of the Syrian parties – representatives of the Government and of the opposition.  It has required political courage from them to sit in the same room and listen to their respective demands. 

The Kazakh FM just read out to you a joint statement adopted by Iran, the Russian Federation and Turkey at the conclusion of the International Meeting. 

When we came here to Astana our immediate priority was to ensure the consolidation of the ceasefire.  Syrian people are desperate in their need for an end to the ongoing brutal and bloody conflict. Let me commend Russia, Turkey and Iran for their decision to establish a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire. This is a concrete step towards further implementation of SCR 2236. The UN stands ready to assist the parties to the trilateral mechanism develop it, and ensure that it helps strengthen the quality of the ceasefire.

I should also add that both Syrian parties told me that their immediate priority was and remains to strengthen the ceasefire. The opposition delegation has shared specific proposals in this regard. The Government also underlined how important the ceasefire is to them. And as I speak to you now, efforts are continuing to address Wadi Barada and other issues.  The consolidation of the ceasefire is expected to produce unimpeded humanitarian access more effectively that today. 

The ceasefire can additionally help the fight of the international community against terrorism in Syria and the wider region. 

I also trust that the emphasis that this Meeting has put on the ceasefire will help create a supportive environment for engagement between the Syrian parties. This is important in order to jumpstart the convening of the formal political negotiating process under UN auspices in Geneva next month.  The only way for peace to come to Syria is through a political solution brought about through intra-Syrian negotiations under the aegis the UN.

We look forward to genuine and constructive engagement by inclusive and empowered delegations on all aspects of a political solution to the Syrian tragedy, in accordance with the sequencing outlined in 2254 – namely governance, constitution and elections. I welcome that the joint statement makes clear that the terms and sequencing of that negotiating process under UN auspices is defined and framed by SCR 2254.

I also take note of the reference in the joint statement of upcoming cooperation on the “Astana platform” for specific issues of the political process.  I also took note with appreciation of the comments made by HE the FM of Kazakhstan Abdourakhmanov, when he emphasised that SCR 2254 is clear in assigning the primacy of the lead on mediation to the UN.  I welcome the repeated confirmation of this by all my interlocutors here in Astana, particularly the Syrian parties.  I have also heard it very clearly from the sponsors of the conference in Geneva.  We will be therefore happy to make good use of the Astana platform when the Geneva mediation process will require it.

I will be proceeding to New York next week to consult the Secretary-General and brief the Security Council, as part of my intensified preparations ahead of the February negotiations in Geneva.  In closing, let me say this:  We cannot allow another ceasefire to dissolve because of a lack of a political process.  Now is the time for the international community in all its dimensions to come together and support one integrated political negotiating process, as provided for in SCR 2254.

Astana, 24 January 2017