According to reports, the ceasefire throughout Syria is largely being observed. The UN Security Council expressed its support for the ceasefire (on 31 December) in an unanimously adopted resolution and commended the efforts of Russia and Turkey to achieve this. “The fact that this ceasefire is more or less holding raises cautious hope for the people in Syria,” Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier said in an interview with the Rheinische Post (2 January).
Real political negotiations necessary
However, the German Foreign Minister went on to say that the coming days and weeks would prove whether or not the ceasefire could be successfully sustained. “If we have learned one thing from the failed ceasefires of recent months, then it is that, for true prospects for peace, more will be required than merely halting military confrontation,” Steinmeier declared. “Without meaningful political negotiations that involve all relevant actors, efforts to permanently end the fighting will not succeed.”
Involvement of all relevant actors important
Steinmeier stressed that the ceasefire could only hold if other regional actors such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were involved. He emphasised last Saturday (31 December) that at the same time, setting political negotiations in motion as soon as possible on the basis of UN Resolution 2254, which outlines the framework for a peaceful solution, remained a priority.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has already announced steps to achieve this goal and has consequently welcomed the new ceasefire.
Humanitarian access remains a priority
The German Foreign Minister explained that it was now important for the parties to the conflict to “ensure humanitarian access to all besieged areas without delay and ... stop obstructing the aid workers. This is more urgent than ever now, during the winter!” For people in Aleppo and other besieged and embattled areas he said it was a matter of survival. Steinmeier stressed that German humanitarian assistance was ready to be deployed.
Since 2012, Germany has provided more than 2.6 billion euros in support for the Syrian crisis, over half of which has been for humanitarian aid. Germany also recently set aside another 55 million euros for eastern Aleppo in order to provide the civilian population fleeing the city with basic necessities. Alongside food, tents and medical supplies, the priority now is to provide blankets, stoves and warm clothing for the winter.