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'We are far from a political solution in Syria,' says UN Envoy

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - AUGUST 21: United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen speaks during a press conference at the UN Geneva Office in Geneva, Switzerland on August 21, 2020. The conference is held within the third round of talks of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, which will begin on 24th of August. ( Bayram Altuğ - Anadolu Agency )
United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen in Geneva, Switzerland on 21 August 2020 [Bayram Altuğ/Anadolu Agency]

The UN Special Envoy for Syria said that the regime and opposition sides negotiating a Constitution are "far from a political solution" to end the 11 years of conflict, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Geir O. Pedersen was speaking at the EU's Sixth Brussels Conference on "supporting the future of Syria and the region" and said talks will resume in Geneva again at the end of May.

"As the conflict in Syria has developed over the past 11 years, we have witnessed suffering and abuses on an immense scale; a terrible violent conflict that went beyond all norms," Pedersen said.

It is a "humanitarian catastrophe that has devastated the lives of well over half the population; a displacement crisis on a scale with few comparisons," he added.

Pedersen said it is "a crisis of detention, abduction, and the missing; an economic disaster that has immiserated millions of Syrians, the fragmentation of the country, and the continued threat of terrorism."

The UN Envoy moderates talks aimed at securing peace in the war-torn country but said that displacement continues and only a few Syrians return as the economic crisis and violence continues, "with the constant risk of escalation – even if there is something of a military stalemate."

He said that Syrians have never needed the EU's support more than they do right now.

Call for cease-fire

"Over these years, my predecessors and I have continuously called for a nationwide cease-fire and a comprehensive Syrian-led and owned political solution – one that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, that respects Syria's sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity," said Pedersen.

"But let me be frank. We are far from that political solution."

He said that the "Constitutional Committee's Small Body," consisting of members of the regime, opposition, and NGOs, will meet again in Geneva at the end of this month.

The previous seven rounds have not brought about the results he would have liked, but he hoped that the upcoming round can at least bring some progress.

Pedersen said he has appealed to all members to approach the session with "a sense of compromise and constructive engagement" and focus on things on which Syrians can begin to agree.

"Of course, I hope that ultimately the Committee can help establish a new social contract to help heal the wounds of a devastating conflict.

"But even were Syrians to agree on the substance of a constitutional reform or a new Constitution, it could not unfold inside of Syria in a truly meaningful way, with conditions the way they are today," the UN Envoy warned.

He said work is needed to establish a safe, calm, neutral environment inside Syria, starting with confidence-building measures, such as UN Security Council Resolution 2254 mandates.

READ: UN Syria Envoy appeals to all parties, and global actors to work with UN in renewed talks

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