New UN-led peace talks for Syria started in Geneva on Thursday (23 February), with government officials and members of the opposition meeting in the same room for the first time in three years. Foreign Minister Gabriel called on the parties to the conflict to make use of the opportunity to resume the peace negotiations.
Opportunity must not be passed up
Full support for the UN and its Special Envoy
“For the first time in many months, there is the prospect that the vicious circle of violence may be broken and a true political process can be initiated under the leadership of the UN”, Gabriel said. “Germany will continue to do everything in its power to support the UN, and in particular UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, as they tackle this difficult task.”
In the run-up to the talks, de Mistura warned against overly high expectations and said he was not expecting a breakthrough. However, he hoped that the talks would be productive and move towards a political settlement of the six-year conflict.
First peace talks in Geneva since April 2016
These are the first peace talks in almost a year. The talks in Geneva were suspended in April 2016 because of the escalating violence around the city of Aleppo. A ceasefire was finally agreed in December 2016, but has proved fragile.
The dramatic situation in Syria was also a topic on the margins of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bonn
Speaking in Bonn last week (17 February), Foreign Minister Gabriel underlined that the humanitarian situation in the country remained “catastrophic”. He met a smaller group of counterparts on the margins of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting to discuss the latest developments in Syria. The participants underlined that peace talks for Syria should take place under the auspices of the UN.