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Press briefing by UN Special Envoy for Syria - Brussels conference on Syria

4 April 2017

SdM: You heard it, we have very much a common line, and we have in particularly, moments like this one where we know that the international community in this conference tomorrow, is an element of supporting and reinforcing what the international will and what the UN is doing in Geneva. We have been constantly looking for constant new steps to the right direction even when things are harder like this one. Because we see Astana, we see Geneva, we see Brussels, we see Astana again and then again Geneva, all stepping stones, we hope all pushing for a political solution.

What happened this morning, we have been discussing it with Federica Mogherini, is horrific. We have been asking and the UN is going to ask and I am sure there will be also a Security Council meeting on this, for clear identification of the responsibilities and accountability. It is true, every time we have a moment in which the international community is capable of being together, 70 countries tomorrow, there is someone, somehow that tries to undermine that feeling of hope, but using the feeling of horror and outrage. But we are not going to do that, and on the contrary we make use of these horror moments in order to show the determination that they can not prevail.

So tomorrow we will push for that, today we discovered once again the richness of the civil society. Please meet them; please talk to them, not only with us and the special representatives of the various countries. They represent, in my opinion, the real voices. That is why we give such a role to the women as a group, what we call the Women Advisory Board, but also the women groups within the Syrian civil society and many of them who represent also the people who are refugees. Listen to them, because when we have a meeting with them, they are making a lot of sense and I am able to agree, which we don’t see sometimes when we have official meeting, so thank you for organizing this, I know it is not easy. It is always complicated particularly when we have an issue like Syria and thank you for being together.

Q: Do you have any information on who in fact was responsible for the chemical attack today. You both spoke about the assurance of not granting immunity beyond the UN Security Council meeting. What can be done against the perpetrators? In terms of reconstruction, why should Russia and Iran pick up the bill since they have been doing much of destroying?

SdM: We have not yet any official or reliable confirmation, what we have understood it was a chemical attack and it came from the air, we will be stimulating those who have the capacity of finding out technically what happened. OPCW is an obvious candidate for doing so, in order to be able to be much more precise. What we do know, it was horrible, in terms of victims and what has been in the photos and pictures we have been seeing are quite telling.

Q: The question to the Special Envoy refers to the reasons why the last round of talks was blocked.

SdM: Let me answer first of all I think the question was rhetoric because it was not blocked, no one left, no one refused to come, they all stayed until the last minute of the Geneva talks, nine days. I cannot go into details because, as you can imagine, that’s the role of the mediator to keep some confidentiality. What appears to me is that we didn’t have a breakthrough but we didn’t have a breakdown either. What we did have [is] incremental steps in each of the four baskets. Which ones? I can’t tell you yet, but it was and they were all engaged. Remember, at the end of the day, when, god willing, inshallah, there will be a moment we will have a conference for peace around the table and the Syrians and the international community will be testifying the end of this conflict, many of the details, which are not small, would have been solved through this type of meetings. So, please, do not dismiss it. The proof is that we are aiming at a new round and this one ended, in my opinion, in an incrementally improved way.

Question alone (interpreted from French): Do you think that this chemical bombing challenges the peace process, as the Turkish President Erdogan said.

SdM (interpreted from French): Unfortunately, we had many terrible incidents before the conference. The important thing is not to give satisfaction to those who do these horrible incidents with the aim of, maybe, challenging the peace process. Thank you.