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Tuesday, 15 March 2016



Mr President,

Recent developments coming from Syria seem to reinforce the feeling of helplessness in front of an endless human tragedy caused by the continuation of the conflict and its procession of refugees, disrespect of human rights and international humanitarian law. Crimes against humanity are frequent and unpunished; intentional attacks against the civilian population are daily. The findings of the International Commission are more than alarming. On the other hand, some bright spots, in particular the negotiations that started this week, should push all people of good will not to give up in the search to minimize this human, humanitarian and political tragedy, and, above all, to continue to work towards a peaceful and negotiated solution that takes into account the best interests of Syria and all components of the Syrian nation.

The Holy See, as it was stated by Pope Francis at the Sunday Angelus Prayer on 28 February, would like to give its support to regional and international efforts underway to consolidate the recently negotiated ceasefire accepted by the majority of parties involved in the conflict. Regional and international contributions are indispensable and they should be thoroughly devoted to the interests of the Syrian people. Any approach attempting to defend in the first place regional or international interests, using the different parties to the conflict without considering the future of the country and without taking into account the unbearable human suffering, are unethical. These would not meet the requirements for peace and stability in Syria and in the region. Any policy that ignores the true interests of Syria will be counterproductive, prolong the conflict with its miseries and will have serious consequences for the region and the world.

In the process of reconciliation and peace-building the inclusion of all parties is necessary. All parties involved in the conflict and the International community have a role to play. They are called to look at the long-term interests of the entire region and primarily the real interests of Syria. Obviously the war and the instability do not favour any player but impact negatively all countries involved, directly or indirectly, in this ongoing conflict. The United Nations, in the first place, has an encouraging and facilitating role. Any solution must be based on the rule of law, justice, freedom and respect for human rights. Donor countries also have an interest in investing in peace and reconstruction. Indeed, the continuation of the conflict is a blatant failure of all stakeholders and will only bring grief and instability for all.

A crucial dimension for reaching a sustainable solution in the peace-building process is respect for a pluralistic society where ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities have their place as full members of society and the Syrian State. The survival and the well-being of the aforesaid minorities is the guarantee of a democratic State, respectful of differences. In fact, the recognition of their rights does not weaken in any way the State, on the contrary, it enriches and strengthens it. In this sense, the return of refugees and idps is an essential condition for reconciliation, reconstruction and sustainability of any solution of the conflict.

As the Holy See has previously stated it is urgent to begin immediately the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the population in need and to remove all obstacles so that humanitarian organizations can have access to all areas. Without the protection of civilians and their human rights there cannot be a just political solution. Special care should be given to the weakest groups of society.

Mr President,

In conclusion, I would like to recall what Pope Francis recently stated: “I have received with hope the news of the cessation of hostilities in Syria, and I invite everyone to pray that this break may bring relief to the suffering population and open the path to dialogue and to the peace that is so desired” (Angelus, 28 February 2016).

Thank you, Mr. President.