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Europe draft UN resolution on Syria whips up confrontation - Churkin

October 05, 2011, 15:06 UTC+3

The draft resolution strongly condemned the "grave and systematic human rights violations that the Syrian authorities continue"

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UNITED NATIONS, October 5 (Itar-Tass) — The adoption by the UN Security Council of the European draft resolution on Syria would further whip up confrontation and incitement of a civil war in this country, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin stated.

Speaking on Tuesday night to Russian reporters after voting in the UN Security Council during which the resolution that was threatening Syria with sanctions was vetoed, the Russian ambassador stressed that “voting on the draft was held against the background of Western leaders’ statements that they no longer consider the government of Bashar al-Assad legitimate and urge the opposition to abandon the dialogue with the government of Syria.”

The draft resolution prepared by France, Germany, Portugal and the UK strongly condemned the “grave and systematic human rights violations that the Syrian authorities continue.” Its authors demanded to “immediately end all acts of violence” and urged “all the sides to reject violence and extremism.” The draft called for “an open for all and led by Syrians political process, which would be conducted in an atmosphere free from violence, fear, intimidation and extremism.” Although direct references to sanctions were removed from the final draft resolution version, it expressed the UN Security Council’s resolve “within 30 days to consider the issue of how Syria complies with the requirements of this resolution,” and if it fails to comply, to consider taking “targeted measures.”

In addition to its authors, five more countries - the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gabon, Nigeria and Colombia – voted for the draft resolution. Brazil, India, South Africa and Lebanon abstained. A UN Security Council resolution to be passed should be supported by 9 out of its 15 members, on the condition that none of its five permanent members takes advantage of the veto right. In the case with the Syrian resolution two members of the UN SC Five - Russia and China, used this right.

The Russian ambassador drew attention to the fact that the actions of extremists and destructive opposition are intensifying in Syria. “We can see that they proceed from the armed struggle to terrorist attacks,” Vitaly Churkin said. “In these circumstances, we considered it very important for the peaceful opposition in Syria to dissociate itself from extremists and enter into dialogue with the government of Bashar al-Assad.” According to him, the Russian-Chinese draft resolution, which was also extensively discussed by Russia with Security Council members and received the support of Russia’s partners in BRICS, was aimed exactly at this. “However, it was not accepted by the Western members of the Security Council,” he regretted.

“It should be borne in mind that a large proportion of the Syrian population, a number of religious and ethnic groups do not want such traumatic developments in Syria,” the Russian representative continued. “They want reform, they want more democracy, but they do not want their country to be plunged into the abyss of a fratricidal war. The main thing in this situation is not to escalate tensions, not to blame the Syrian leadership for everything, not to threaten with sanctions as it is done in the Western draft, which we vetoed today, but to develop a dialogue.”

Churkin said he hoped that “now that the threat of the UN Security Council sanctions has been set aside the Syrian authorities will take advantage of this opportunity for more energetic putting into practice of the advice the Russian leadership has been very insistently giving them in recent months - to implement real reforms, to release the protesters who have not committed crimes, concerning the need to conduct a dialogue with the opposition and avoid excessive violence.”

According to the Russian ambassador to the UN, it is possible to see on the example of Syria “the development of the strategy that has already been tested in such countries as Cote d’Ivoire and Libya.” Its essence boils down to “some Western leader proclaiming - as was the case in Cote d’Ivoire - the winner, without waiting for the constitutional process in the country, and a very complicated process begins there.” “Fortunately, there the crisis was overcome with a rather limited bloodshed with the UN assistance,” Churkin recalled. The same, he said, could be seen in Libya, where the West declared Gaddafi illegitimate, and the people whom nobody knew it declared the only legitimate representatives of the Libyan people. “We believe that not the Western countries should determine the legal representatives,” he said. “The people themselves should do this.”

Churkin expressed the view that in the case with Syria the West continues its old policy, declaring President Bashar Assad illegitimate, calling on the opposition not to engage in any dialogue with the authorities and to continue the protests. “In such circumstances, the opposition is only to hope for the energetic intervention from outside,” said the Russian ambassador. “We know that the opposition in Syria is supplied with weapons.” In this regard he expressed bewilderment why during the discussion of the draft resolution the Russian wording that “the conflict in Syria should be resolved peacefully without military intervention from the outside” was not accepted. In general, Churkin described the Western project as “very one-sided, aimed against the government, and thus encouraging further escalation of the conflict.” “We had to firmly stand against this,” the Russian ambassador to the UN said.

An estimated 2,700 people have been killed in Syria since mid-March when the protest movement began, part of a wider uprising across North Africa and the Middle East this year. Senior UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have repeatedly voiced concern about the situation, according to a UN press release.

Speaking after Tuesday’s vote, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said his country did not support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but the draft resolution would not promote a peaceful resolution of the crisis. He said the issue was not a question of wording, but “a conflict of political approaches” on how to end the crisis. Mr. Churkin said the majority of Syrians wanted gradual political change, rather than quick regime change, and the text also did not adequately take into account the behaviour of extremist groups in opposition to Syrian authorities.


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