"We very much welcome the progress made in Geneva."
Remarks to the Press by Francois Delattre
Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
8 March 2017
Three quick remarks on Syria.
The first to say that we very much welcome the progress made in Geneva on the roadmap which will drive the next round of negotiations. The important thing is that now we have a clear roadmap and based on this roadmap we have the tools to enter the core issues of the political negotiations for the first time. Number 1.
Number 2, for the future talks as you know we consider that the UN must remain front and center in the process and we fully support the tireless efforts by Staffan de Mistura. We hope by the way that after the consultations we can adopt a SC press statement supporting Staffan’s efforts.
And number 3, what I really wanted to tell you before the consultations is that we are extremely worried by the continued violations of the ceasefire, including in Homs, Deraa and even in Eastern Ghouta, where bombings have been reported in the last hours despite the truce agreement reached yesterday. In the same vein the persistent lack of humanitarian access is clearly unacceptable. Just to give you an example, only three convoys were able to access besieged areas since January, only three.
So we can’t tolerate this situation, the non-compliance with the cease-fire on one side, the persistent lack of humanitarian access on the other side. This is clearly unacceptable and we urge the guarantors of the ceasefire, Russia, Turkey and Iran, to make sure that the ceasefire is enforced and that the humanitarian access is respected. This is for us a clear priority.
On the humanitarian side, what can the Council do to actually try and get aid in? I mean, you’ve been stymied, you’ve called for it repeatedly but nothing happens.
You know on the humanitarian side it’s crystal clear: most of the hurdles to the free an unimpeded humanitarian access come from the regime, and so we must put maximum pressure on the regime directly and through Russia. We need to increase the pressure.
Ambassador, you said UN should be the front and center of the process, but there seems to be another process which is – before the Geneva Talks – there will be another meeting in Astana, and there are some groups of opposition asked for the UN to be the main sponsor of that meeting in Astana which is about the ceasefire. Do you support that?
Again for us the important thing is that, as I said, the UN must remain front and center. There is a process in Astana that can be very helpful also in this regard. You mentioned the opposition: I think it’s fair to say that the opposition’s attitude has been responsible, constructive in Geneva despite the pressure coming from developments on the ground that I was just referring to, so again I don’t see any contradiction between the Geneva and Astana processes provided that the lead is clearly defined by the UN.