24 October 2012Remarks by Sir Mark Lyall Grant following the Security Council briefing from Joint Special Representative Mr Ladkar Brahimi
Q: What is your impression of the briefing?
A: It was a very comprehensive and a sober briefing from Mr Brahimi, who made clear that the situation was extremely bad and deteriorating, and he explained the background to his personal proposal that there should be a truce and a cessation of hostilities for the period of Eid-ul-adha and he asked the Security Council to support that effort. Obviously the Security Council will do so, and a Press Statement will be issued and will be read out by the President of the Council, which does that.
Q: Did he talk about a plan for the political process of the transition in Syria?
A: A number of Member States, including the United Kingdom, made clear that a short-term truce which would allow in humanitarian access was valuable, but the key thing was to have a sustainable cessation of hostilities which would lead to a political dialogue and a transition, which would allow the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people to be met. That should be one of the focuses of Mr Brahimi’s work and he obviously agreed with that, but his immediate focus was on the ceasefire during the period of the Eid.
Q: What about the spill-over into Lebanon?
A: That was also raised of course, by myself and a number of other members. We were deeply concerned about the spill over into neighbouring countries, by the 350,000 refugees that were now outside Syria seeking safe haven, which clearly shows that the crisis poses a threat to international peace and security as we have been saying for some time.
Q: What confirmation does he have from the Syrians or the opposition?
A: Mr Brahimi said that the opposition had said that they would consider the proposal and that he expected that they would be issuing a statement in the next 24 hours accordingly, that he had been in touch with various parts of the opposition and that certainly the Free Syrian Army and other parts of the opposition had indicated that they would be prepared to respond if the government took the first step in initiating a ceasefire over the Eid period.
Q: Does he have confirmation from the government. Is that clear?
A: He got an indication that…he was positive about the indications from the government, but he anticipated that they would be issuing a statement, but obviously he was cautious until that statement had been issued and it hasn’t yet been issued as far as we know.
Q: But the Eid is on Friday?
A: The Eid is on Friday, exactly, as i said, in the next 24 hours...
Q: What should the Council do to protect countries like Lebanon?
A: As I say, we will be issuing a statement this morning which makes clear that we support this effort by Mr Brahimi, that it should give the opportunity for humanitarian agencies to provide much needed relief to the people who are suffering so much in Syria and that we hope that it could be a first step towards a more sustainable ceasefire which would be based on 2042 and 2043 and initiate a political dialogue leading to a political transition. That’s the statement that was agreed and it’s welcome that all Members of the Council have agreed those points.
Q: Does Brahimi make the point that the arming of the two sides is problematic and that the Council agree that the two sides should not be receiving military support from that side?
A: That was raised by Mr Brahimi, and it was picked up by some Members of the Council, but it’s not covered specifically in the statement.