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Security Council Fails to Agree on Joint Syria Declaration

Security Council Fails to Agree on Joint Syria Declaration

Wednesday, 10 February, 2021 - 06:00
FILE PHOTO: Members of the United Nations Security Council gather during a meeting about the situation in Venezuela, in New York, US, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The UN Security Council on Tuesday failed to agree on a joint declaration on Syria, capping a day of negotiations in which UN special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen called to jump-start the deadlocked peace process.


Russia repeatedly blocked negotiations on the matter, diplomats said, although Moscow did not respond to a request for comment as to why.


Endless rounds of UN-backed peace talks on Syria have failed to stem the bloodshed and in recent years have been largely overtaken by parallel negotiations led by Russia and Turkey.


"The current divisions in the international community need to be bridged," Pedersen told journalists earlier in the day following a Security Council videoconference.


Pedersen said that without "constructive international diplomacy" on Syria, it was unlikely that "any track -- constitutional track or any other -- will really move forward."


Diplomats said the failure to agree a declaration was due to Russia, which had made demands unacceptable to Western nations.


"The Russians are asking too much," a diplomat said on condition of anonymity.


The council's monthly meeting on Syria is usually public, but officials kept the session private after a meeting of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva last month ended with no progress.


Estonia's UN envoy Sven Jurgenson lamented the lack of progress.


"The aim was not to create a debating club, but to give Syrian people a way out from a 10-year long conflict," he said, according to a copy of his speech that was released after the meeting.


"It is clear to everyone that the Syrian government has just taken advantage of these meetings to delay any real reconciliation."


The committee was created in 2019 to modify Syria's 2012 constitution, which directs the organization of elections under UN supervision.


"Session five of the Constitutional Committee was a missed opportunity and disappointment," Pedersen said of the January meeting, which included the Syrian regime, the opposition and civil society.


"There is a lack of trust and confidence and a lack of will to compromise -- and a lack of political space to compromise too," he added.


Diplomats told AFP that Western powers were unanimous during Tuesday's meeting in decrying the "failure" of the political process.


One representative accused the constitutional committee of having achieved nothing, and blamed the Syrian regime for "delay tactics."


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