Transcript of Press Stakeout by Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy for Syria, 23 February 2017

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Good evening,

I think you will have access to, and you have had an access to the welcoming speech, to all those which have been invited, which took place about half an hour ago, so I will not repeat or reiterate or elaborate what I said because you have it in front of you, and if you don’t my office would be more than happy to actually do so.

You must have noticed one or two things.

One is that everyone was in the room, and second that we had in the room the Security Council members and all the ISSG members. We have been following carefully resolution 2254 as a guidance, it is not easy, but it was part of it in order to make sure that we could have this welcoming speech to those that we have invited.

I also hope that you noticed that we had behind me, in my team, two important representatives of Syrian women to remind everyone, including myself, Syrian women need to be part of this peace process.

Regarding the opposition, we know there is still work to be done, but today, I think was a moment for a building block. You must have seen that there was in particular a very heavy weighty delegation on the side of the opposition in the room.

They were including also the armed groups, many of them who have been and are attending Astana meetings, because as you know peace is made between those who fight each other.

I will continue to encourage more dialogue and inclusion among the various Syrian parties.

Tomorrow I intend to have bilateral meetings to elaborate with everyone about procedure, because in mediation, procedure is crucial and the work plan for this round.

This is a mediation process. My job is to be a mediator. That’s why we continue to stimulate, incentivize the parties with inputs, in order to pursue, in advance the agenda items 2254.

And of course stimulate also further coalitions among the various entities of the opposition.

You must have seen some hand shaking. Syria people need handshakes in order to be able to address their own serious concerns about this conflict.

Thank you, I’m going to take three questions, not because I’m hostile to you but I have to work on the plan for tomorrow.

Q: Mr de Mistura, what do you understand from the term transitional government in Syria?

SdM: This is exactly one of the main areas of discussion which is supposed to take place, because Security Council Resolution 2254 gives a broad but clear road map, that’s why we need negotiations, that’s why we need mediations. Read 2254 and you will have the answer.

Q: (Interpreted from French) Mr Special Envoy, yesterday you said that you don’t expect an immediate breakthrough, this shows the complexity of the Syrian question. In your opinion what are the main obstacles?

SdM: (Interpreted from French) Thank you, first of all I would like, through you, to mention my pleasure to have seen yesterday and today in the meeting where I made my statement, the Special Envoy of the Republic of China for Syria. He is a wise man and he had gave me in the past, useful advice. So I would like to thank him for that through you.

To answer your question, obviously I said that we should not expect miracles. First, because I am superstitious, second, because I saw many problems in the past and third because I am trying to be realistic. I still think that the moment is important for all sides to understand that war cannot continue and there are reasons why I think it is the right moment, including the ceasefire which is having troubles.

To answer your question about what are the main obstacles, and for trying to not take a lot of your time because there is not a lot, it is a lack of trust, a need for confidence. This is where mediation can help.

Q: There are several opposition groups here, obviously, and some are not here, is the list of the group attending Geneva talks this week the final list or are you going to invite other groups in the future talks?

SdM: My guidance has been, and will be (Resolution) 2254. If you look carefully on (Resolution) 2254 you will see what type of guidance I am having. But my dream like any mediator is to have only one delegation on one side and one delegation on the other. That’s when you can do the best job, and I am not giving up on that hope, thank you very much.