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Joint stakeout by UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz

Joint stakeout by UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz
18 May 2016

[The statement below by the UN Special Envoy followed opening remarks by the Austrian Foreign Minister]

Thank you very much. I will speak in English although as you know I speak German and I understand very well what the Minister very kindly said about the UN and what we are trying to do.

First of all, I would like to confirm that we are very grateful to Vienna and to your country for facilitating what is quite unique, this ISSG. In other words, this momentum that is led by the understanding between America and Russia and now almost 30 countries, who meet regularly in Vienna, has been the momentum behind which what we have been able to have what, one year ago, was unthinkable.

Having a ceasefire, 50 percent today, used to be zero. We want to bring it up to 80 percent, of course 90 percent, although ceasefires in a war of five years is not (inaudible). And humanitarian aid, which used to be zero to besieged places last year, now is close to 250,000 people -- not enough but moving. But above all, all these are ingredients to make people in Syria and us believe that the political process can be launched, and should be launched.

So the next step is testing what happened yesterday, which was quite a strong decision, to reinforce the ceasefire and to re-launch the humanitarian aid. So, I can feel sufficient comfort to explain to the Syrian people and to the international community that we can re-launch the talks on the Intra-Syrian discussions because it is clear there is no military solution. We said it, it is confirmed, and it is confirmed again.

Now the more - and I know how much you are all concerned - the more we give hope to the Syrian people, the less they will be tempted to do what is so desperate of them -- to leave Syria and to move towards Europe and risk their lives.

So, already with the cessation of hostilities, I was getting reports from my own colleagues that people were postponing, delaying or not even deciding to leave anymore, because there is a hope. Syrian people love their country. So we have a common interest, morally and politically, to push ahead. And the meeting yesterday in Vienna (inaudible).

Thank you very much.

Questions and Answers

Question: Do you have a date for a meeting in Geneva, for the peace process?

UN Special Envoy: I have a period but not a date because I want to make sure that the date is decided, first of all, in consultation with everyone. Secondly, I have to see what has been the progress on the two issues, the humanitarian and the cessation of hostilities. We have Ramadan as you know taking place in that part of the world and elsewhere, and that is a date we are keeping in mind too, before and after.

Question: So will it start mid of June?

UN Special Envoy: I won’t tell you the date yet because I am considering various options. But we need to do it soon, not late, otherwise we lose the momentum. But it should not be done without having verified what are the positive consequences, we hope, of the two initiatives which took place yesterday.

Question: Could you, Mr. de Mistura, get in touch with representatives of the opposition after the meeting yesterday and are they satisfied with the outcome? Do you think they will be satisfied?

UN Special Envoy: Well, you must know that in a conflict like this one, no one either opposition, frankly even the government, will be or can be satisfied because the situation is still not as they will like to have, either side frankly. Secondly, I did not yet discuss it with the opposition because I am still in Vienna but I will do that from tomorrow in Geneva, when I am back to my headquarters. I will certainly try to explain to them what was achieved but also what they need to, both sides, contribute to make sure that what we decided yesterday becomes concrete. After all, all this is a Syrian led process.