Baltic statement at the veto initiative meeting on Syria

Statement by the Republic of Estonia on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

delivered by H.E. Mr Rein Tammsaar at the

77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Agenda item 60 “Use of the Veto”

19 July 2023

Mr. President,

The Baltic states align themselves with the statement delivered by the European Union.

We welcome today’s debate under agenda item 60 „Use of the Veto“. This important initiative increases accountability and transparency in the use of the veto power.

The Baltic states deplore the veto cast by the Russian Federation on 11 July under agenda item „the situation in the Middle East“, concerning extending the authorisation to deliver cross-border humanitarian aid to the Syrian people for 9 months through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing. This is already the second time that the Russian Federation’s veto has put the delivery of life-saving aid to the Syrian people at risk.

The resolution that Russia vetoed was a genuine and much appreciated attempt to find compromise by the penholders Brazil and Switzerland, supported by 13 Council members. Although Security Council members, permanent members in particular, have a special responsibility to maintain international peace and security, the Russian Federation is demonstrating again and again its irresponsible behavior and therefore casting shadow to the dignity of the entire Council.

Syrian regime’s decision to allow the UN and its agencies to use the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing for six months to deliver aid in Northwest Syria does not provide humanitarian organisations enough space and assurances to plan and deliver assistance in the most efficient manner.  Such short-term bilateral agreement cannot be seen as an alternative to Bab al-Hawa as the latter has been used to deliver 85% of the lifesaving aid to the more than 4 million people in Northwest Syria as also mentioned by the President of the General Assembly.

We also fully share OCHA’s concerns over the conditions set out in the Syrian regime’s letter for the distribution of humanitarian aid. These demands are neither consistent with the impartiality of the United Nations nor practical.

For these reasons we encourage the Security Council to continue efforts in finding a solution that will allow humanitarian agencies to continue delivering essential cross-border aid to the people in Northwest Syria. We also urge the Syrian regime to retract its unacceptable demands that infringe on the independence of the United Nations’ humanitarian operations.

Mr. President,

Whatever Russia’s claims are, the reality is that the European Union and its member states remain the largest provider of humanitarian, stabilisation and resilience assistance inside Syria and in neighboring countries. The Baltic States continue to support UN initiatives ensuring humanitarian aid to the Syrian people – most recently Estonia pledged €60 000 to OCHA and €40 000 to UNICEF, and Latvia pledged  €70 000 to OCHA for activities related to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Let me conclude by underlying the need to work towards a comprehensive and meaningful political solution in Syria, in line with Security Council resolution 2254 and the legitimate expectations of all Syrians.

I thank you.