The latest resolution on Syria, unanimously passed in the Security Council, may finally put things “on the right track” in the troubled country, Russia’s envoy to the UN exclusively told RT.
RT:The Security Council has just agreed to boost the number of observers. Do you think this time around the mission will be a success?
Vitaly Churkin: We certainly hope so. In fact we are very pleased with the outcome of today’s vote, which happened less than two hours ago. It was Russia who took the initiative in introducing the draft yesterday morning. And it took us just 26 hours to bring it to fruition, to the unanimous vote of the Security Council on a rather complex resolution, both politically and technically, no mean feat by Security Council standards, let me tell you.
But the most important thing is what is going to happen next. Of course, we hope that the monitors are going to be deployed expeditiously. The mandate is very carefully outlined, so it’s very clear both for the monitors what they are expected to do, to the government and the opposition what they are expected to do for the monitoring mission to be successful, both in terms of allowing them to get objective information and in terms of making sure that they operate in an environment of safety and security.
It is also very important that the mandate provided for the monitors in the resolution is fully in line with the understandings which have been reached between the UN secretariat and the Syrian government.
So we are very encouraged that we may be on the right track. And there are some positive indications on the ground as well. Because for instance today the foreign minister of Syria sent a letter to Mr Kofi Annan in which he says that the Syrian government has complied, has implemented one of the very important provisions of the Kofi Annan plan: the provision about pulling out heavy weapons and troops from the cities and from around of cities.
If this is in fact the case, then it is very important first step in the implementation of one of the major provisions of the Kofi Annan plan.
RT:You say there is cause for optimism. But US Ambassador Susan Rice has just said that if the current plan is unsuccessful, the mandate will be extended. What does she mean by that? And how does Russia view this?
VC: Ambassador Rice questioned the extension of the mandate, but we are not on this stage yet. The current mandate has been authorized for 90 days. And the Security Council is going to hear reports about the implementation every 15 days.
So what is going to happen in 90 days is anybody’s guess. Of course we hope that then the situation will become calm and political process will be in full swing, dialogue between the government and the opposition. So it remains to be seen if there is a need for an extension of that mandate in 90 days.
But what was troublesome to me in the statement which was made by Ambassador Rice and by some colleagues from West-European countries, even though they supported this Russian draft and the adoption of this resolution, is that they missed an opportunity to send a signal to the opposition. They kept criticizing the government saying nothing about what they expect from the opposition, which is in fact outlined very clearly in the Security Council resolution which they themselves had just voted for.
And all those predictions of doom and gloom, and threats of various plans which are being hatched somewhere, those things are not productive. I think they are distracting from the implementation of the Kofi Annan plan and from the political effort of the Security Council. And they may give ground for some extremists to believe that their cause still has some prospect for taking over the political process which we are trying to see established in Syria.
So, you know, we are not naive. Even though the Security Council voted unanimously today, we know that some members of the Security Council, some important members of the international community, are still continuing to think in confrontational terms towards the Syrian government. Incidentally, one very important aspect of what happened today by the vote of the Security Council in favor of this resolution is that the Security Council has by and large re-established its prerogatives in the Syrian crisis as the international body which holds primary responsibility for matters of international peace and security.
So all those who talk and make statements and convene and gather and discuss various groups of “friends” – or not – of Syria, must also be respectful of Security Council resolutions and must contribute to its successful implementation.
RT:So you are saying that there is definitely a feeling that the “Friends of Syria” are undermining Russia’s efforts, indeed China’s efforts, and of course the Syrian regime?
VC: Well, they are not in line. Not in line with the resolution which was passed today by the Security Council and the resolution which was passed a week ago on deploying the advance group of monitors. And, you know, when they keep piling up sanctions against the Syrian government and say nothing about the need for the opposition to enter into dialogue with the Syrian government , of course it is not in line with the Security Council resolution which we adopted today and of course it is not a positive contribution to the support and the implementation of the Kofi Annan plan.
But we hope that they will adjust their policy to the Kofi Annan plan and that in fact they will do what they are supposed to do. And that is to impress it on the opposition that it is time to enter into dialogue, and time to stop violence in the streets, and give people in Syria an opportunity to figure out their political future, the political future of their country on their own.