Today in Paris at a meeting addressing the situation in Syria, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the international community must make a joint effort to end the violence in Syria. “The continuing violence, the murders and torture, and the use of people as shields during combat are utterly unacceptable,” said Paet.
The foreign minister said that the severity of the situation in Syria is also demonstrated by the fact that over 16 000 people have been killed in the conflict, which has gone on for almost a year and a half. Over 100 000 people have fled to Syria’s neighbouring countries Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and at least 1.5 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. “Therefore we must get the armed conflicts in Syria to stop as soon as possible,” Paet emphasised.
Paet said that everyone at the meeting agreed that the international community must support Syria in forming a transition government, ensure that sanctions against the Syrian regime are upheld, and organise the distribution of humanitarian aid. “And when the time comes, the international community must help to rebuild Syria. It is also certain that the perpetrators of crimes do not have immunity,” he added. Paet noted that in addition to a cease-fire, it is also essential to reach a point where all the parties to the conflict support the transition plan formulated by the special representative of the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan so that a credible political transition process could begin in the country. “The transition process must involve all parties to the conflict and various minority groups, and if necessary greater international pressure should be placed on all parties in order to achieve real results,” said Paet.
The foreign minister added that Estonia supports the activities of the UN supervision mission UNSMIS and the continuation of the mission’s work there. “Up until now the works of the mission has been hindered and the presence of the mission has not been enough to reign in the violence,” he said. “Therefore the new mandate being given to the UN supervision mission must be stronger and able to ensure the protection of the Syrian people,” Paet emphasised.
In order to alleviate the complicated humanitarian situation of the Syrian people, Paet said that in addition to allocating aid it is also important that the Syrian authorities allow complete and unhindered access for humanitarian aid to reach those in need. “Thus far Estonia has helped those suffering in this crisis with 50 000 euros given through the UN Emergency Response Fund for Syria and with 50 000 euros given through the International Committee of the Red Cross,” he added.
Today’s meeting of foreign ministers on the topic of the situation in Syria, which was opened by the president of France, is taking place for the third time. The first meeting took place in February in Tunis and the second in April in Istanbul. There are close to 100 countries and international organisations participating.