Syria Document: Statement of the 2nd Vienna Conference


PHOTO: Delegations at Saturday’s conference in Vienna

The statement of the “International Syria Support Group” after 17 countries, European Union, UN, and Arab League met for the second time in Vienna on Saturday:

Meeting in Vienna on November 14, 2015 as the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), the Arab League, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States to discuss how to accelerate an end to the Syrian conflict. The participants began with a moment of silence for the victims of the heinous terrorist attacks of November 13 in Paris and the recent attacks in Beirut, Iraq, Ankara, and Egypt. The members unanimously condemned in the strongest terms these brutal attacks against innocent civilians and stood with the people of France.

Subsequently, the participants engaged in a constructive dialogue to build upon the progress made in the October 30 gathering. The members of the ISSG expressed a unanimous sense of urgency to end the suffering of the Syrian people, the physical destruction of Syria, the destabilization of the region, and the resulting increase in terrorists drawn to the fighting in Syria.

The ISSG acknowledged the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political process pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communique, and that both initiatives should move ahead expeditiously. They stated their commitment to ensure a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition based on the Geneva Communique in its entirety. The group reached a common understanding on several key issues.

The group agreed to support and work to implement a nationwide ceasefire in Syria to come into effect as soon as the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition have begun initial steps towards the transition under UN auspices on the basis of the Geneva Communique.

The five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council pledged to support a UNSC resolution to empower a UN-endorsed ceasefire monitoring mission in those parts of the country where monitors would not come under threat of attacks from terrorists, and to support a political transition process in accordance with the Geneva Communique. All members of the ISSG also pledged as individual countries and supporters of various belligerents to take all possible steps to require adherence to the ceasefire by these groups or individuals they support, supply or influence. The ceasefire would not apply to offensive or defensive actions against Da’esh or Nusra or any other group the ISSG agrees to deem terrorist.

The participants welcomed UN Secretary General Ban’s statement that he has ordered the UN to accelerate planning for supporting the implementation of a nationwide ceasefire. The group agreed that the UN should lead the effort, in consultation with interested parties, to determine the requirements and modalities of a ceasefire.

The ISSG expressed willingness to take immediate steps to encourage confidence-building measures that would contribute to the viability of the political process and to pave the way for the nationwide ceasefire. In this context, and pursuant to clause 5 of the Vienna Communique, the ISSG discussed the need to take steps to ensure expeditious humanitarian access throughout the territory of Syria pursuant to UNSCR 2165 and called for the granting of the UN’s pending requests for humanitarian deliveries. The ISSG expressed concern for the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons and the imperative of building conditions for their safe return in accordance with the norms of international humanitarian law and taking into account the interests of host countries. The resolution of the refugee issue is important to the final settlement of the Syrian conflict. The ISSG also reaffirmed the devastating effects of the use of indiscriminate weapons on the civilian population and humanitarian access, as stated in UNSCR 2139. The ISSG agreed to press the parties to end immediately any use of such indiscriminate weapons.

The ISSG reaffirmed the importance of abiding by all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including UNSCR 2199 on stopping the illegal trade in oil, antiquities and hostages, from which terrorists benefit.

Pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communique, incorporated by reference in the Vienna statement of October 30, and in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118, the ISSG agreed on the need to convene Syrian government and opposition representatives in formal negotiations under UN auspices, as soon as possible, with a target date of January 1. The group welcomed efforts, working with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and others, to bring together the broadest possible spectrum of the opposition, chosen by Syrians, who will decide their negotiating representatives and define their negotiating positions, so as to enable the political process to begin. All the parties to the political process should adhere to the guiding principles identified at the October 30 meeting, including a commitment to Syria’s unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character; to ensuring that State institutions remain intact; and to protecting the rights of all Syrians, regardless of ethnicity or religious denomination. ISSG members agreed that these principles are fundamental.

The ISSG members reaffirmed their support for the transition process contained in the 2012 Geneva Communique. In this respect they affirmed their support for a ceasefire as described above and for a Syrian-led process that will, within a target of six months, establish credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance, and set a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution. Free and fair elections would be held pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months. These elections must be administered under UN supervision to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including the diaspora, eligible to participate.

Regarding the fight against terrorism, and pursuant to clause 6 of the Vienna Communique, the ISSG reiterated that Da’esh [Islamic State], [Jabhat al-]Nusra, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the UN Security Council, and further, as agreed by the participants and endorsed by the UN Security Council, must be defeated. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan agreed to help develop among intelligence and military community representatives a common understanding of groups and individuals for possible determination as terrorists, with a target of completion by the beginning of the political process under UN auspices.

The participants expect to meet in approximately one month in order to review progress towards implementation of a ceasefire and the beginning of the political process.

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    • I think Syria’s fate would be the same with or without these pointless talks, which are perhaps mainly intended to show the domestic audiences that their governments are “doing something”.

      The civil war in Lebanon lasted for about twenty years, and the war in Syria is likely to do the same. In the end, the various exhausted parties will settle to an uneasy peace, as in Lebanon and Israel/Palestine. There is too much hatred and intolerance for a true democracy to operate.

      In any election, the largest group will “win”, as the Shiites did in Iraq, and they will they try to dominate the other groups. Fighting will then begin again.

  1. Kerry has repeatedly argued thatAssad was a magnet for terrorists – a point that the Syrian massmurderer vigorously protested against, arguing that it is the West and “especially France” that is to blame for Friday’s attacks in Paris.

    (Obviously Assad is following the same aims like Daesh)

    Kerry has also stated that Assad’s removal is vital for any hope for peace in the country.

    It has seemingly become a secondary issue in the effort to combat terrorism. Backers of both the opposition and the regime, along with representatives of the EU, the Arab League and the UN, agreed to support a ceasefire between the parties and on fighting terrorism.

    There was no mention about the main cause of the conflict – called Assad the Massmurderer who triggered the Syrian war.

    It was agreed to support a ceasefire as soon as the parties begin initial steps towards a transition.

    But It is unclear how and why such a ceasefire will work now when previous attempts failed.

    The Vienna statement is a gift for Assad.

    It essentially categorises the anti-government forces as those willing to work with the regime towards an Assad-friendly transition and the rejectionist terrorists.

    This complicates the situation for non-extremist groups, especially those amiable to foreign leverage. If they are compelled to agree to the botched process, they will lose credibility, and influence, among people. And if they refuse to oblige, they might lose foreign support.

    Both scenarios will strengthen extremists.

    The prominence of extremists in the conflict is a product of this conditional support for foreign-backed factions in the first place.

    The reality is that this doomed process is Russia’s attempt to avoid being bogged down in an endless war in Syria.

    Around six weeks into its intervention in Syria, there is little to show.

    Russia knows that as long as support for the rebels continue, it cannot achieve its immediate goal of securing the regime. And Moscow seems to have made a lot of progress on that front already.

    • Yes, the Assad fetish is being relegated as everyone but some die-hard Saud and yourself now realises it is infeasible to remove him forcibly without causing at least the same amount of damage to the country as has already illegally been inflicted, and that their rotten game’s no longer worth the candle.

      It seems most likely that ‘non-extremist groups … amiable [sic] to foreign leverage [i.e. the purchased stooges of foreign sponsors]’ who refuse to oblige/conform to the new orders will lose a bit more than just credibility, influence and support … they will rapidly be added to the kill-list along with IS, JaN, et al.

      Remember, Young Gunny, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

      • Very true Barbar.

        In fact, this act by Daesh has all but killed the efforts to remove Assad as the world realizes that playing the insane balancing act of backing rebels like ISIS and Al Nusra to remove Assad while pretending to be opposed to those groups has produced disastrous consequences.

      • Bavarian, you are using russian logic, too? Lol

        1..If Assad stays in Power the syrian war will not come to a stillstand.

        2..An ongoing war will radicalize even bigger parts of society.

        3..Saudi Arabia is part of the game – the same as Turkey and Iran. But that wasn`t the question. The question was that around six weeks into its intervention in Syria, there is little to show. It means: The war will be endless. It means: You are acting like a warmonger like Iran and Russia.

        4. Bavarian – it will help if you are using brain and logic. Thank you.
        The purchased stooge of foreign sponsors is Assad. He cannot survive
        without the Co-massmurderer Putin and without the Co-massmurderer Khamenei.

        You are the one surpporting shiite Jihadism, too?

        5..Assad regime was the one who created Nusra & Daesh.

        6. If you topple the creator of Nusra & Daesh called Assad both will vanish.

        resumen: Your statement that a massmurderer should hold the power will prolong the war.

        • 1. Wrong, Gunny, my statements will neither prolong nor shorten the war.

          2. I have never stated that a mass-murderer should hold power, however, it’s a fact of life that many of them do.

    • Kerry has repeatedly argued thatAssad was a magnet for terrorist

      Which is a pretty asinine comment given that the same could be said of Francois Hollande and every Israeli leader since Israel was created.

      Obviously Assad is following the same aims like Daesh

      Obviously no. Assad offered condolences to France while Daesh claimed responsibility. As Assad mentioned, what happened in France happens every day in Syria, so obviously the rebels are following the same aims like Daesh

      • I have never heard that Hollande is freeing terrorist to fight democrazy.
        Assad hasn`t condemned the Paris attacks. Not informed like always?

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