The conflict in Syria will soon have raged for eight full years. More than 400,000 people have lost their lives. Millions of Syrians have been forced to flee their homes. The first meeting between Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Geir O. Pedersen, the new Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Syria, focused on initiating a political process with the aim of finally ending the conflict. Pedersen took up the office of Special Envoy at the beginning of January 2019.
In Germany’s view, the conflict in Syria can only be resolved through a durable, long-term and comprehensive political process that takes the interests of all of Syria’s ethnic and religious groups into account. A first step in this direction is the convening of a constitutional committee that, under the auspices of the United Nations, will have the task of drafting a new constitution and thereby enabling a new political beginning. So far, a committee has not been convened, also because no agreement could be reached to date on the composition of such a body, or on the associated questions of its chairmanship, mandate and terms of reference.
Prior to his meeting, Foreign Minister Maas called for progress in this regard:
The convening of a constitutional committee should open the door to further political change in Syria. For the constitutional committee to succeed, its membership must be balanced and inclusive.
Maas and Pedersen also spoke about the tense situation in Idlib province and about how the situation in north-eastern Syria will develop following the announcement of a withdrawal of US armed forces. For the German Government, it is clear that any military escalation must be avoided at all costs. Only a lasting ceasefire will create the opportunity for peace.