International consultations on Syria
During a meeting in Paris of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People on 6 July, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was again working for an end to the violence and the start of a political transition process. In the statement of the Chairman’s conclusions, the participants call on the UN Security Council to take action and on Bashar al Assad to relinquish power. Prior to the Paris meeting, Westerwelle visited Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on 5 July. His talks there also focused on Syria.
The Group of Friends meeting in Paris
© photothek / Köhler
More than 100 representatives of states and international organizations convened in Paris on 6 July as the Group of Friends of the Syrian People, to search for a way of launching a political transition process based on the six-point peace plan drawn up by Kofi Annan.
In the speech he made to the conference, Foreign Minister Westerwelle emphasized the need to step up the political and economic pressure on the Syrian regime. The participants used the statement of the Chairman’s conclusions to call on the United Nations Security Council to urgently adopt a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that reaffirms the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point plan by way of non-military sanctions. The statement also calls on Assad to step down and states that those guilty of violence against the Syrian people will not go unpunished.
Syrian opposition forces were among those taking part. During his speech, Westerwelle also encouraged the representatives of the opposition to continue in spite of the difficult circumstances to work for the peaceful resolution of the conflict. The opposition forces had a great responsibility, he said, their duty being to “stand shoulder to shoulder and pull together for a peaceful, fair and democratic future in Syria”.
The dramatic situation in Syria (Homs, June 2012)
© picture-alliance / abaca
The statement of the Chairman’s conclusions also records the intention of the states involved to provide yet more help to people in need in Syria. Minister Westerwelle announced in Paris that the German Government was increasing humanitarian assistance for the suffering Syrian populace by 500,000 euros, bringing its total contributions up to 8.5 million euros. He pledged that the Government would not cease in its efforts to alleviate the suffering caused by the conflict in Syria.
The Paris meeting was the third time the Group of Friends of the Syrian People had gathered, following two previous conferences in Tunis and Istanbul respectively. It attracted several international organizations plus more than 100 states from all over the world, including Arab and other predominantly Muslim states such as the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia. Many European countries were also represented, as were the United States, such influential emerging economies as Brazil and India, and a number of African countries. Alongside those representing individual states, the participants also included the European Union, the United Nations, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a resolution on Syria on 6 July reiterating that those responsible for the systematic and widespread violence against the Syrian people must be brought to justice. The Council emphasized the importance of the Commission of Inquiry tasked, among other things, with examining claims of human rights abuse in Syria so that the perpetrators can be punished.
Talks in Moscow
Syria was also at the top of the agenda in Moscow, where Westerwelle met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on 5 July. After their talks, Westerwelle and Lavrov assured the attendant journalists that they supported Kofi Annan’s peace plan and intended to help ensure its success. “We are united in our desire for a political solution,” Westerwelle said, though he qualified this by pointing out that the two sides still had different ideas about how that political solution was to be arrived at. Affirming that he had not come to Moscow expecting to achieve a “breakthrough”, Westerwelle stressed the need to maintain dialogue. He described Germany’s position as wishing to increase international pressure on Assad and prevent the crisis spreading across the region.
This was Westerwelle’s third bilateral visit to Moscow. Apart from Syria and other issues of relevance to the international community, his talks touched on German-Russian relations as well. He said that what Germany associated with Russia was a strategic partnership which included relations between civil society in the two countries as well as cultural, academic, economic, educational and youth exchange.
The two Foreign Ministers’ meeting was followed by talks between Westerwelle and a number of other politicians and representatives of civil society on current developments in Russian society.
Last updated 06.07.2012