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Udenrigsministerens tale ved Syrien-fredskonferencen (Genève II) i Montreux

Udenrigsminister Holger K. Nielsens tale ved Syrien-fredskonferencen (Geneve II) i Montreux den 22. januar 2014.

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I want to start by thanking the Secretary-General for the invitation to this very important meeting. Today is the first time that the parties to the Syrian conflict sit down together to find a political solution to the conflict. Although this is only the first small step, we believe that it is an important one. The road ahead will be difficult, but Denmark is committed to do, whatever we can in order to support this process in the time to come.

Let me then turn to the Syrian parties. During the last three years your country has seen tremendous suffering. More than 130.000 people have died; 2.4 million people have become refugees; and a staggering 6.5 million people are internally displaced. The situation in Syria today represents the largest humanitarian disaster on the planet. Today, the world is looking to you to find a political solution to the conflict and bring an end to the suffering of your people.

Let me commend the Syrian Opposition Coalition for deciding to attend today’s conference. Denmark is fully aware that it has not been an easy decision. But it was the right decision and a courageous one.  We fully share your vision of a transition to a new democratic and pluralistic Syria with room for all political, religious and ethnic groups. This is why we are here today.

As outlined by the Secretary-General in his invitation to this meeting, the solution to the conflict should be based on the Geneva Communique. I urge the Syrian delegations enter the negotiations with the willingness to implement the communique to its full extent. The Syrian government in particular must understand that negotiations based on a continuation of the current regime are not an option. Instead, the primary task in the time ahead will be to agree on the formation of a transitional governing body formed on the basis of mutual consent and with full executive powers, including over military and security entities. This will not be an easy task. But it is the only path that will lead to a durable solution to the conflict.

As you enter into the negotiations, I also encourage you to involve and engage the broad spectrum of the Syrian population. A durable peace is one where all segments of society are heard. Not least women. Denmark believes that women should be fully represented in all aspects of the transition. Without their participation, the quest for a durable political solution and a sustainable peace will be more difficult.

Finally, I encourage the parties in the coming days to take immediate confidence building steps in order to show good will at the eve of negotiations. These steps should be to the benefit of the suffering Syrian population. It could be in the form of local ceasefires and release of political prisoners. However, first and foremost, all parties must commit to full access for humanitarian assistance. Sieges against urban neighborhoods must stop and all parties must allow for full humanitarian access to all parts of Syria. The control of humanitarian aid as an instrument of war is completely unacceptable. Likewise, the use of barrel bombs and SCUD missiles against civilians must be stopped immediately. Such acts are in clear breach of international humanitarian law and those responsible must be brought to justice.

Let me end by reiterating that there is only a political solution to the conflict. At this hour, a negotiated solution can seem almost impossible. However, the parties to the conflict in particular but also the international society – all of us - owe it to the Syrian  people to do what we can, and even more than that, to realize a negotiated solution which will bring an end to the conflict

Thank you. 

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