UNITED NATIONS, July 18 (Itar-Tass) — It will be difficult to achieve a ceasefire in Syria and implement there the plan the UN and Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan without international observers, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Alexander Pankin told Russian journalists on Tuesday.
“Under the right conditions, the mission (UN Supervision Mission in Syria – UNSMIS) is a very powerful tool that helps Kofi Annan. Without it, it will be much more difficult for him, even impossible to achieve (reconciliation of the sides),” he pointed out. He added that the “six points of Kofi Annan’s plan are still relevant.”
The UNSMIS mandate expires on the night to July 21. Until then, the UN Security Council should adopt a resolution extending the term of stay in the country for the mission’s group of 300 people, including both military and civilian experts.
At present, the UN Security Council considers two such drafts. The first, prepared by Russia, would extend the UNSMIS mandate for three months. The Western version limits the observers’ stay in the country to 45 days and contains a threat of applying sanctions against Damascus.
On Tuesday, the Russian delegation circulated in the UN Security Council an updated version of its draft resolution, which, according to Pankin, includes “a number of elements concerning the humanitarian situation, the human rights situation and the mechanism of local ceasefire,” he said. The Russian diplomat recalled said that the gradual ceasefire initiative “was discussed by Kofi Annan in Damascus with the Syrian leadership.” “This idea seems quite effective, so we offered it,” he said.
According to Alexander Pankin, the vote on the two draft resolutions is still scheduled for Wednesday evening. “Nothing is ruled out,” he said, stressing that there is time for additional consultations. “The mandate of the mission expires on Friday night, but nobody wants to drag it out to the last moment,” said the Russian official.
Taking into account that members of the UN Security Council do not intend to compromise on the sanctions issue, the voting on the two draft resolutions will be blocked. In this case, there is a risk that the UNSMIS will stop its work on Saturday.