Third Conference of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People
Statement by H.E. Mr. Wolfgang Waldner, State Secretary for European and International Affairs of Austria
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Austria would like to thank France for hosting this important meeting and hopes for a clear signal of the unwavering support of the international community to the Syrian people. They are counting on the international community to help ending the bloody conflict and starting a political transition. We fully endorse their vision of a democratic Syria, governed by the rule of law, the respect of human rights and the inclusion of all groups and components of the Syrian society.
The most urgent tasks are to end all violence and human rights violations as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to all people affected by the conflict in Syria and in neighbouring countries. Austria has supported the humanitarian efforts of the international community from the beginning and stands ready to supply further assistance.
There is no military solution to the conflict. Arms deliveries to both sides in Syria have to end since they only fuel violence and runs counter to a political solution.
Austria reaffirms its full support for Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan which is the only way to a political solution. In this context, we welcome the establishment of the “Action Group” since its members have a particular leverage on the parties and a special responsibility. We have to work that the results of Geneva as well as of this conference will have an impact on the ground. We also call upon the Syrian regime to fully cooperate with Mr. Annan’s team and the UN Observer Mission UNSMIS.
Austria urges the opposition to unite and to engage in an inclusive political process for a new Syria. We commend the democratic opposition’s on-going efforts to create a platform that sets out the cornerstones for a united, prosperous and peaceful Syria and encourage them to reach out to all Syrian people, including ethnic and religious minorities in order to present them with a convincing alternative to the current regime and with a credible road-map towards a political solution.
The continuous worsening of the situation of minorities is of great concern to us. We are particularly worried about the conditions of the Christian community and commend their efforts to look for solutions in close dialogue with other religious leaders. Austria deems it of utmost importance that all parts of society have their place in the future of Syria.
It is our firm conviction that those responsible for the grave human rights violations in Syria must be held accountable. We share the assessment of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that these violations may amount to crimes against humanity. That’s why Austria for quite some time has asked for a referral of the case of Syria to the International Criminal Court.
The pressure on the regime has to be maintained. We hope that this conference will convince further partners around the table to implement restrictive measures against the Syrian regime.
Let me conclude by expressing our appreciation of the courage and the steadfastness of the Syrian people in their struggle for freedom and democracy. Rest assured that Austria is fully committed to supporting the Syrians in this endeavour.