Where global solutions are shaped for you | News & Media | 16.01.29 - Transcript of the Press Stakeout of the Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura

ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

16.01.29 - Transcript of the Press Stakeout of the Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura

29 January 2016

I will speak in English but we do have also a very good lady who will be doing some interpretation in Arabic when and if there is a need for it. Thank you.

Good evening, as you know I have just have had a meeting with the delegation of the Syrian government. The Syrian government has sent a substantial delegation which has arrived this afternoon and we have had a preparatory meeting. It is standard practice to have whenever there is a beginning of negotiations or intra-Syrian process, we call them for an opportunity for going through the agenda and so then having an idea about what are the next steps.

Now the issue is obviously that any type of ceasefire discussions which is obviously something that we are aiming at, apart from substantive discussions on the future of Syria, need two interlocutors, you make a ceasefire when between those who are firing, that is why for us it is very important to have an indication of where we are on the presence of the HNC.

You are more aware than I am, because I have been sitting in a room, that the HNC have been going through now three four days of internal discussion about their own decision to come to Geneva for this Intra-Syrian talks. They have been raising, it is not a secret, they said it publicly, they raised an important point of their concern, they would like to see a gesture from the government authorities regarding some type of improvement for the people in Syria during the talks, for instance release of prisoners, or for instance some lifting of sieges. It is a human rights point it is not even an issue to negotiate. this is part of the paragraph 12 and 13 of the Security Council resolution 2254. At the same time we have been strongly suggesting to them that the best way to actually discuss the implementation of such type of discussion and there after improvement is to be done here and to do it with us, as proxy talks or directly. Whatever is the format.

Now I have good reasons to believe that they are actually considering this very seriously and therefore to be in a position on probably Sunday to actually start the discussions with them in order to be able to proceed with Intra-Syrian talks. I was considering Monday as an important day to re-access the situation but my feeling is, I may be wrong, that in fact their internal discussion is leading towards accepting our suggestion. The best way to actually discuss the implementation of important signals towards the population of Syria is to come to Geneva and of course be also an occasion of talking about what we call the political process.

If there is any questions in Arabic madam will be helping, otherwise I am ready for questions:

Q. Mr. de Mistura, I want to ask the list of terrorists, did you decide something, or did the government decide who are the terrorist?

SdM: I got the point, thank you madam. The government delegation raised the issue about a list of terrorist, I leave it to them to make their comments on that. I reminded them that this time our priority is actually talking about what the Security Council resolution instructed me on the first of January so we have been quite patient up to the 25th and you too and now we are on the 29th in order to give time to every delegation to feel comfortable in coming. But the issues is about governance, new constitution and new elections and of course counter-terrorism is something that can be and should be discussed in the Security Council environment. There are many avenues for that.

Q. Al-Jazeera : Special Envoy, what did the Syrian government say to you about those parts of the resolution that the opposition want acted on now, like lifting the sieges, and what is your message to the Russian government, supposed to be one of the sponsors of this process, and yet it is bombarding groups that want to come here for peace talks.

SdM: James, the real thing is that is why we are in need of having these talks. It is exactly and precisely in order to be able to address the issue about not only the future of Syria, but as we said any type of demonstration of improvement for the people of Syria, which means reduction of violence, reduction of bombing, lifting of ceasefires, and so on. So I think you should give a chance for these talks to start in order to be able to discuss exactly that, the implementation of those concerns. I made yesterday, you probably know, a short video for addressing the Syrian people, was (7’) certainly not me who should be addressing the Syrian people, but they should do it among themselves. But my appeal was raise your voice, we heard yours and these talks cannot just be about politics we need them to be about some evidence of improvement for their own people during the talks.

Q. Al-Arabiya News Channel – during your meeting with Jaafari, the opposition declared that they are coming to Geneva to participate so I’m just telling you that.

SdeM: She is giving me information, as you can imagine I have been hearing rumours and information already, we’ve heard them many times. What I’ll react to, that’s why I’ve said I’ve reasons to believe, (8’02) I will only react when I get a formal indication of that but that is a good signal. Now let me turn on that.

Q. Lebanese Communications Group, Television Al-Manar. Mr de Mistura can you please tell me the evaluation of humanitarian aid in both paths. I know that your convoys went to Madaya more than 5 times but to Foua and Kefraya not even one time. Your (8’44)… of the United Nations sit with the Al Nusra and… Madaya and they let the convoys go into Madaya 46 trucks, then 45 trucks, then 10,000 litres of diesel oil but the same terrorist parties are forbidding you to go to Foua, and Kefraya and Der Ezzour also. Can you explain the situation?

SdeM: Of course. Thank you for your statement, slash question. (9’17) The truth is that we are going obviously to use these talks – I can commit myself on that because we have been saying it more than once – to ensure that actually the access issue, the access to reach every besieged area should be implemented. There are 14 of them, 14 – some of them by the government, some by the opposition and one – Der Ezzour – by ISIS. So you can see how much the Syrian people are suffering from one side and the other and these talks need to be addressing that point (9’49).

Q: Al Jazeera Arabic. You’ve mentioned that governance is going to be one of the issues discussed here in Geneva. Now there is a talk about having a national coalition government instead of the transitional governing body based on Geneva I, is this really an issue that’s going to be talked about? I mean, are we going to go from where we left things during Geneva I and Geneva II, what’s going to happen regarding this issue?

SdeM: (10’20) Well, let me not pre-judge. I’m the mediator, I’m not the negotiator here. I am not the negotiator so we should not pre-judge what the sides will be discussing. What I can tell you is that the agenda is very clear. The agenda is extremely clear in that what the Security Council is instructing me to facilitate and all sides have accepted that it should be (10’51). One is governance. What we are talking about is a governance which is all –inclusive. A governance which is obviously of a special type of nature otherwise we would not need to talk about it up to the negotiation. Secondly a new constitution, not just what it is already. And three, a new elections under UN supervision. That is the agenda (11’19). Now let’s allow the sides when they sit together or through us by proxy talks to be able to negotiate that, I will not pre-judge it.

Q. I see a gentleman down there, over to you. Reporter spoke in Arabic – Translation: what is the name of the delegation where Randa Kassis and Hawtham Mannaa will participate in?

SdeM: Well we have as you know invited the government and the government has replied and has shown up. We have invited the HNC and it’s up to them to have their own delegation when they come and we’re hearing indications in the right direction and we look forward to welcome them here. And then we have been sending individual letters to various individuals whose voices we believe are usefully important for me to hear in order to be able to be better guided in our discussions. That’s all I can say at this stage (13’01)

Q: (Many reporters shouting, same question) What about the courts, what about the courts, will they harm (?) their reputation?

SdeM: As you know at the moment, these are the invitations we have been issuing… I would like to say goodbye.

Q: (Many reporters shouting, same question) What about tomorrow?

SdeM: Tomorrow in my opinion is … depending on if and when we have the arrival of an additional delegation, and based on that I will decide whether we have, like we had with the government, a specific introduction meeting as we had or whether there would be something on Sunday. You will be having some work to do either Saturday or Sunday and certainly on Monday. Thank you very much.

29 January 2016