Press stakeout following the meeting between Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey – Moscow, 29 October 2012

JSR: The Foreign Minister and I just met together. The Russian Federation is an important player in the world. It is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, and it has been present in the Middle East for a very long time. It is normal for me, in addition to all the discussions I have had elsewhere, to come to Moscow to have more discussions about the very serious problem in Syria. I have said, and I believe it is worth repeating again and again, that the Syrian crisis is very dangerous. The situation is bad and is getting worse and the entire international community has got to come together and help the people of Syria find solutions to the crisis.

Let me just say a word about this pause — I call it a pause, not a true or ceasefire. What I did was just really make an appeal to all those who are fighting inside Syria, to give their people a respite for few days. Because of arrangements inside, because we have discussed this at length with the inside, and everybody said that they were interested. Some people did say that they will not participate in the ceasefire, maybe because they thought that the other side would not respect the ceasefire.

I am terribly sorry, as Sergey just said he was, that this appeal has not been heard at the level we hoped it would. And that will not discourage us, it will not discourage us because Syria is very important, because the people of Syria deserve our support. So we shall continue to work as hard as we possibly can and we need the cooperation of everybody, inside Syria and outside of Syria, to bring the level of violence down, put and end to it and launch Syria on the road on to new Syria.

I also said repeatedly, and I think everybody agrees about that, what is needed in Syria, as in other countries, in all other countries in our region, is a real transition, not cosmetic reforms. So that change has to be worked out by the Syrians—a Syria-led process, with the support of the international community. We have discussed as Sergey has said, very substantively [inaudible] we looked at the problem from all the angles. It was necessary to look at it, and I repeat the expression of my gratitude to the Foreign Minister and the Government of Russia for their cooperation and look forward to continued cooperation, exchange of views and hopefully working together for a solution to the Syrian crisis. Thank you very much.

Q: [on peacekeepers to Syria]

JSR: The United Nations is not considering sending a peacekeeping force to Syria. The United Nations and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping has explained this a few days ago, he is doing their normal work, doing some contingency planning. If and when the Security Council decides to send a peacekeeping mission as part of the effort to help the Syrian people, then DPKO will be ready. So there is no plan for the moment to send a peacekeeping mission but just contingency planning, because this may indeed become a possibility in the future.

[Answer by FM Lavrov]

Q: [on armed opposition, views on dialogue, and recent bomb attack]

JSR: This pause that we asked the parties to observe, as I said the Government made the announcement that they were going to stop firing during the Eid period. Quite a few of the opposition groups did the same. Now each side is accusing the other of having broken this ceasefire. The result is that there was no pause and the people of Syria haven’t spent quiet days during the Eid people. These bombs that are being thrown, quite often in civilian population areas, are definitely terrorist acts by groups we have no contacts with. And this is definitely condemnable and has been condemned by the Secretary-General of the UN in particular, and by all people.

[Answer by FM Lavrov]

JSR: If I may add, just one point, I have been calling what is happening in Syria a civil war. And as a matter of fact, one of the very few things, perhaps the only thing, both side agree about, is that it is not a civil war. The Government says that they are fighting terrorists and only terrorists, and that is it their duty to do so, to protect their people. And the other side is saying they are fighting a very cruel government who are executing us and we are just defending ourselves. What we say is that yes, it is indeed a civil war. I saw a women speaking on one of the television channels saying that she has one son in the regular army, and another son is in the Free Syrian Army. If that is not a civil war, I don’t know what it is. So we think that this civil war must end. The Syrians must come together and solve their problems. There are very serious problems. And the new Syria has to be built by all its sons and daughters of course. And the support of the international community, starting with their neighbours, and countries like Russia and the other members of the Security Council is indispensable.

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