At talks in Astana, UN envoy on Syria urges mechanism to oversee ceasefire


23 January 2017 – International talks to extend the ceasefire in Syria started today in the Kazakh capital of Astana, with the United Nations Special Envoy said the ceasefire can be solidified if a mechanism to oversee and implement it is created.

&#8220The chances of success will be greater if the parties here are able to agree on a mechanism to oversee and implement nationwide ceasefire. A mechanism to oversee and implement a nationwide ceasefire,&#8221 said Staffan de Mistura. &#8220We didn’t have it in the past, that’s the reason why often we failed.&#8221

He encouraged the guarantors of the ceasefire to create a mechanism to implement the consolidation and de-confliction ceasefire measures, and &#8220to see what else can be done to build confidence.&#8221

Sitting alongside representatives of the Government of Syria and the Syrian opposition, Mr. de Mistura reiterated that the only way to end the conflict and secure a political solution is through negotiation among the Syrians.

The closed-door meeting &#8211 convened by Iran, Russia and Turkey, with a representative from the United States attending as an observer &#8211 is meant to end tomorrow.

The Special Envoy said that he hoped by strengthening the ceasefire at the Astana meeting &#8220we could see in Geneva genuine intra-Syrian negotiations,&#8221 referring to the 8 February negotiations to be held under the auspices of the UN.

&#8220I would hope direct negotiations between empowered and inclusive delegations of the Government and the opposition to take place,&#8221 Mr. de Mistura said, which include issues of &#8220governance, constitution , elections&#8221 in the context of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).

He praised the parties for the ceasefire announced by President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with support of Iran, in December for saving lives, and encouraged others to join.

&#8220All other armed opposition groups not affiliated to terror organisations designated as such by the Security Council, in addition to groups allied with the Government, should also listen to the call to abide by the ceasefire,&#8221 Mr. de Mistura said.

Protection of civilians must be a crucial priority, he underscored, calling for the protection of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, water and electricity networks, and areas such as markets.

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