Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier discussed possible ways out of the crisis in Syria with his counterparts from France and the UK, Laurent Fabius and Philip Hammond, as well as with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini on Thursday evening (24 September).
Steinmeier travelled to Paris for the talks at the invitation of the French Foreign Minister. Prior to his departure, he said the following: “After five years of civil war, 250,000 dead and 12 million refugees, we must now take decisive steps to enter into a political dialogue on the future of Syria.”
The European position prior to the UN General Assembly
This was an important meeting for the Foreign Ministers and the EU High Representative for coordinating a common European stance on the further approach to the crisis in Syria, particularly in view of the upcoming General Assembly of the United Nations in New York next week. Those attending the talks in Paris shared the view that the current situation calls for a proactive, joint approach and for pressure to be exerted at EU level on the important regional and international actors.
Numerous talks will be held on this matter also on the fringes of the UN week. Among other things, the German Foreign Minister will be meeting his US colleague John Kerry and the Saudi Arabian Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al‑Jubeir in New York.
Progress must be made towards de‑escalating the conflict
With regard to the efforts being made to de‑escalate the bloody conflict in Syria as part of a first step, Steinmeier emphasised prior to his departure that divergent interests may no longer stand in the way of joint action on the part of the international community. He also said the following: “There will be no military solution to the internal conflicts in Syria. What we urgently need now is a joint initiative to ensure that Syria remains a united and secular state in the future.”
At the meeting on Syria in Paris, there was consensus among the ministers on the necessity to actively support the UN process and UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura’s initiative to encourage dialogue among Syrians. Moreover, they concluded, it is important to include all important regional actors in the process. Foreign Minister Steinmeier reiterated that the efforts made on the part of UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura constituted “excellent preparatory work”. Building on this, he continued, a way must now be found to initiate a political process and help de‑escalate the conflict.