On Tuesday (17 March) Foreign Minister Steinmeier received the President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, Khoja, for talks. Their discussion addressed possible steps towards a political solution to the conflict in Syria. Steinmeier voiced his support for the mediation efforts of UN Special Envoy de Mistura to Khoja.
“More than 200,000 lives have been claimed by the four-year long civil war. No one can know if (...) the people of Syria can ever live together peacefully again,” said Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday following his discussion with Syrian opposition leader Khaled Khoja.
Support for UN mediator de Mistura
The talks at the Federal Foreign Office focused on the dramatic situation in Syria, where, on a daily basis, the ISIS terrorists, other Islamist militia and the Assad regime are all committing atrocious crimes, and where the attempt to find a political way out of the civil war has reached a dead end.
In this deadlock situation “peace and stability will not be achieved with military means”, said Steinmeier. In the talks, the Foreign Minister once again voiced his backing for the efforts of the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura who is acting on behalf of the United Nations to seek a political way out of the vicious circle of violence in Syria. Steinmeier added to this that:
The only way to end the violence in Syria is through negotiations on a political solution, even if that makes it necessary to talk to the Assad regime, as the United Nations Special Envoy is currently doing.
Policy for the surviving Syrians
For, according to the Foreign Minister, “it is incumbent upon us (...) to make a policy for the surviving Syrians, for the millions of refugees, for the countless women and children who deserve the prospect of having a life in Syria.”
Various initiatives are currently attempting to find a way to launch a political negotiation process in Syria. Alongside the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to achieve a local ceasefire in Aleppo, numerous dialogue processes are being taken forward by Russia and Egypt.
Syria strategy to date in a dead end
The starting point for these initiatives is the recognition that the efforts made so far to reach a political solution to the conflict in Syria have reached a dead end. Germany takes the view that now, only a strategy of hugely ramped‑up pressure on the Assad regime combined with the offer of serious negotiations on Syria’s political future would be capable of overcoming the military stalemate and providing impetus for a political process.
Alleviating suffering, advancing reconstruction
Supporting the moderate Syrian opposition in reconstructing vital infrastructure in the areas they control is also a part of this strategy. Every year, the German Government makes considerable funds available for this: since 2012, Germany has provided a total of over 850 million euros of funding to help the people suffering in Syria as well as to support Syrian refugees in the region.