Paris, 6 July 2012 Press release

Waldner: “The Syrian people’s cry for freedom can no longer be suppressed”

Austrian State Secretary attends the Syria conference in Paris

Paris, 6 July 2012 – “Austria is supporting the Syrian people’s wish for a democratic Syria, a Syria where the rule of law is observed, where human rights are protected and where all parts of society are allowed to participate in democracy", State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner said today at the third meeting of the “Friends of the Syrian People” in Paris.

Some 50 foreign ministers and numerous other high-ranking representatives of states and international and regional organisations, such as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and the Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, are attending the conference.

“The pressure of the international community on the regime in Damascus is growing. After the most recent meeting of the Action Group in Geneva and the Syrian opposition in Cairo, I view this conference as an encouragement for the non-violent forces in opposition who are faced with the risk of becoming overrun with polarisation increasing.”

"It is vital that an end is put now to violence and violations of human rights. Humanitarian aid for the civilians in need is essential. Austria has been supporting the humanitarian efforts of the international community right from the beginning and will continue to do so. The refugee issues in the neighbouring countries have clearly aggravated. We are therefore working on stepping up our support for humanitarian aid for Syrian civilians", the State Secretary continued.

“There can be no military but only a political solution to the conflict in Syria. Austria backs Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan that indicates a possible way of reaching political transition with the involvement of all parts of society, including especially the minorities", Waldner said. The Syrian government must follow its promise of cooperating with special envoy Annan and the UN supervision mission UNSMIS finally up with deeds.

Political transition will only be possible if the opposition speaks with one voice and also observes the cease-fire. “We appeal to the opposition to agree on a shared programme for a new Syria. The agreement about fundamental details of joint action that was reached in Geneva and Cairo is an encouraging step“, the State Secretary continued.

“The severe human rights violations in Syria must not remain without consequences. The perpetrators have to be held responsible. Austria has for quite some time demanded that the issue be brought before the International Criminal Court", Waldner said. "Sanctions such as those imposed by the EU, are an effective means of increasing the pressure on Assad's regime. We support the demand included in the conclusions of the conference, namely to intensify sanctions by a resolution of the UN Security Council."

State Secretary Waldner also used his stay in Paris for a meeting with his colleague in the new French Government, Minister of European Affairs Bernard Cazeneuve. “Europe is going through a phase of upheaval. We are currently moving away from the emergency rescue operations to fight the crises and towards a new design of the EU, towards bracing our common currency and making our economic policy more efficient. France and Austria are close partners and share the same interest in the EU“, Waldner said after the meeting.

The main items on the agenda of the meeting were the implementation of the outcome of the summit on 8 and 29 June, such as the proposals for more growth and employment and closer cooperation in the business and currency field, as well as the vote of the net contributors about the EU budget 2014-2020 and the demand for a financial transaction tax.

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