Remarks to the press: Ambassador Wittig on Syria
(near verbatim transcript of remarks to the press following a Security Council meeting on Syria)
Wittig: "Today's meeting has taken place against the sad backdrop of the horrific massacre near Hama. We heard some rather disconcerting news in the briefing: that the observers of the UN were denied access and were being shot at. We and others have asked for clarification on those incidents. This will have to have a follow-up.
The gist of what we have heard today is that Assad has failed to deliver. He has not undertaken the fundamental change of course that Kofi Annan had always claimed he should. He has not taken those steps. And above all he has not diminished the violence of the Syrian government - which is the number one priority, the prerequisite for the Annan plan to work. Kofi Annan also told us two things: first, sustained international pressure would be needed. And non-compliance with the obligations emanating from Security Council resolutions would have to have consequences.
Bearing that in mind: what can we do? We suggested again to have a chapter VII sanctions resolution, imposing sanctions on Damascus - and the spoilers. That would be a very strong signal. And we suggested - also again - to have a Security Council mandated Commission of Inquiry to address and investigate those massacres that we had to witness in the past days and to ensure accountability - which is key to any future political process.
But while we are sending now those messages we have to jump-start the political process, the transition process. That needs intensified efforts. But let’s not forget: any political transition has to be based on the cessation of violence. That is the top priority we have to work on and here the onus lies on Assad."
[Q. on contact group]
Wittig: "Wir unterstützen Kofi Annan und seine Mission. Wir unterstützen auch die regionale Einbindung. Wir waren immer dafür, dass die arabische Liga eine große Rolle spielt bei der Lösung der Syrienkrise. Es kommt aber jetzt vor allen Dingen darauf an, die Voraussetzung für einen politischen Prozess zu schaffen. Und die Voraussetzung, die Kernvoraussetzung ist das Ende der Gewalt durch das Assad-Regime. Insofern ist das unsere Priorität. Über Prozesse muss gesprochen werden, aber es kommt auf die Substanz, auf das Handeln des Sicherheitrates in diesem Moment besonders an."
[Q. on Russia]
Wittig: "We are at the beginning of a process. A couple of members of the Council today approached that possibilty to have a chapter VII resolution. But clearly, we are not there yet and it'll need some more discussions."