The statement from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab marks the 10th anniversary of the world’s bloodiest ongoing conflict.
“The proposed Syrian Presidential election this year will neither be free nor fair, nor should it lead to any measure of international normalisation with the Syrian regime,” the top diplomats said on Monday.
Syria is set to hold the presidential election in spring, per its constitution. President Bashar Assad told Sputnik in October that it was “early” for him to talk about his potential candidacy in the upcoming vote.
The Western diplomats called for a political process with the participation of all Syrians, including the diaspora and the displaced.
“Our nations commit to reinvigorating the pursuit of a peaceful solution which protects the rights and future prosperity of all Syrians, based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254,” the diplomats said. “Clear progress towards an inclusive political process and an end to the repression of the Syrian people is essential. We cannot allow this tragedy to last another decade.”
The diplomats also said Assad and his supporters “bear responsibility for the years of war and human suffering that followed.”
They renewed calls for a nationwide ceasefire, unhindered aid access and an inclusive political process, promised support for efforts to investigate and prosecute crimes committed in Syria and warned Damascus against non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied accusations of using toxic substances and insists that it has been repelling an aggression of international terrorists exacerbated by foreign powers’ military intervention.
A U.S. soldier observes form the top of a fighting vehicle at a US military base at undisclosed location in Northeastern Syria, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019.
“Clear progress towards an inclusive political process and an end to the repression of the Syrian people is essential. We cannot allow this tragedy to last another decade,” they said vowing also to continue supporting UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen’s efforts.
Speaking on Monday, Pedersen called for the establishment of a new international format to resolve the conflict in Syria with the participation of the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey, the Arab League countries, the European Union and the remaining permanent members of the UN Security Council.
At a UN Security council meeting earlier in the day, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia said a key precondition in the peace settlement is the cessation of foreign occupation and military activities which have not been approved by the legitimate government in Damascus. The Russian ambassador said another condition that needed to be fulfilled was respect for Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.