Transcript - Press Stakeout: UN Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan De Mistura, New York, 30 October 2014
Good afternoon, it's true the discussion went on for a long time because the issue is certainly coming to the attention of the Security Council in view of the humanitarian situation and also the developments on the ground. That's why we've been having a long consultation.
I did brief the Security Council about my regional tour which has taken more than 40 days all over the region and in Damascus and also about what we can do at this stage in terms of any type of activities.
I did indicate that I do not have at this stage and -it would be presumptuous- to have a peace plan but I do have an action plan. The action plan is based on a bottom- up approach in order to do something concrete at the time when everybody seems to be desperate about what's going on in Syria.
Bottom line, the idea is to take this horrific horrible trigger that Da'esh/ ISIS has been producing in the region and in Syria as a trigger for actually moving forward on what could be (translated) into some actions on the ground for those who agree that terrorism which is Da'esh is to be stopped.
How? By proposing and seeing if we can implement some freeze zone or incremental freeze-zone in order to make sure that in those areas we will be able to build first some political process at a local level and then eventually at the national level, give some hope to the local population and avoid that fight which is going on at the moment which is producing an advantage to Da'esh.
If that may take place there are some places which are obvious candidates for that and one of them, let me be frank -haven't learned from Kobani- is Aleppo.
Aleppo has a remarkable tragic situation, it has been constantly under pressure both by the Government (of Syria) and by ISIS. It has a stand-still, it's a place that has an iconic value and at the same time is a symbol on its own which we hope could become an opportunity of showing that somewhere in Syria just because everybody feels there are other priorities and rightly so i.e. the terrorists' threats there could still be some areas where we can show that some improvement can take place.
We would be working on that. Thank you very much.
Q: You talk about these freeze zones, local cease fires. I'm told you told the Council they could be drops of hope. Doesn't Syria need much more than drops of hope?
A: Well from experience many drops can produce a lake and a lake can produce a sea. We have to start somewhere. So far we are starting bottom-up down conferences, large meetings and then there was a stand still.
Da'esh has been waking us all up about its own dangers and its own very quick agenda and is providing us with an opportunity, I hope, for even those who are in disagreement about what is the future of Syria to show that we can produce these drops.
In any case when I was in Syria the message was "Khalas" – enough. The people are suffering too much and they are suffering from all directions. So, that's an additional reason for doing so.
Q: Thank you Mr. De Mistura. I wonder whether you agree to the notion that the international community should cooperate with President Assad and his Government in this fight against terrorism and would you please tell us where are your next visits going to be? Thank you.
A: My next visit is going to be again in the region. That's where I am most of the time because I learnt from my predecessors that it is crucial to engage the region constantly particularly because the region is very much aware about some of the new dangers including the ones we mentioned. I am planning definitely to go back to Damascus where I will be discussing exactly all what we've been saying at the moment.
Q: and what about the cooperation with President Assad and the international community?
A: President Assad discussed with me the issue of his concerns about Da'esh and feeling that he himself is concerned about terrorism i.e. ISIS and basically Al-Nusra. I have been listening to that and hearing that this could be an opportunity for him also to prove that -if he is -as I want to believe against Da'esh and Al-Nusra the next step is to promote a political process. There is no way that just hitting militarily Da'esh will be producing what we hope: a return to normality. But if that becomes the opportunity of combining with the political process where everybody is engaged, every Syrian with no exclusion of any Syrian then I think we will be taking the ground, the water where we would find a fertile ground.
Q: What kind of response did you get from Council members on your plan for your freezes? Where they receptive? Did they have any ideas themselves?
A: Well that you understand, I will leave to the members of the Security Council. I think they are still meeting about that at the moment and see what has been suggested as an entry point for making use of this drama. In every crisis there is an opportunity in order to mobilize some positive action in Syria. This is being just now discussed. I leave it to them to tell you about that.
And last point, and I will give it to a lady, forgive me, Madame.
Q: Can you be a bit more precise on how will you implement the freeze zone? How will you practically do that?
A: I will not be telling you that now because I don't need a spoiling environment at the moment, we need to prepare well. We could get an incremental freeze zone. Why incremental and why freeze? Because when you call a cease fire you know very well by experience that there's been hundreds of cease fires that have been broken by one bullet. We are talking about something different which should not be imposed by any of the two sides, it should be something that freezes the conflict in that area and give them opportunity for some type of humanitarian improvement.