Estonia´s Statement at UN Security Council VTC meeting on the political situation in Syria

Statement delivered by Deputy Permanent Representative, Mr. Gert Auväärt

I thank Special Envoy Pedersen and Ms. Wafa Mustafa for their briefings.

It is positive to hear that the ceasefire in Idlib largely holds. But as other Council members, we are also concerned about the continued sporadic violence in the Northwest of Syria.

Only last week, we witnessed an attack on a Russian-Turkish joint patrol, as well as a car bomb explosion in Bab Al-Salam, which killed at least five people. The perpetrators of such crimes must be held accountable.

Mr. President – looking at the political situation, we see new setbacks. Unfortunately, the nine-year long conflict is far from over. Rebuilding and unifying the country remains a challenge, as Damascus makes unilateral moves, which undermine a political settlement.

Over the weekend Syrian government organized elections in government controlled areas. However, Syrian citizens in opposition held areas and abroad were unable to participate in these so-called elections. In other words – millions of Syrian citizens were denied of their right to freely express their political will at fair elections.

This step clearly violates the political roadmap, set out in the resolution 2254. As such, international community is not going to recognize these or any other elections, until there is a credible political process underway in Syria.

Unfortunately – until this day – Damascus is not genuinely interested in the political process, even if there’s an agreement for holding Constitutional Committee meetings.

Instead, the Syrian government continues to use force against its own population. The torture of arbitrarily detained people is a perfect example of this brutal approach.

Mustafa gave us detailed descriptions of the situation of detainees in overcrowded Syrian prisons. These further convince us on the seriousness of the problem. Estonia demands immediate unilateral release of arbitrarily detained Syrians – especially women and minors.