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Wang Yi:Seek Common Ground While Shelving Differences And Meet Each Other Half Way To Find a Political Settlement of the Syrian Issue
2014-01-23

Remarks by H.E.Wang Yi

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

At the Second International Conference on Syria

Montreux, Switzerland, 22 January 2014

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,

Dear Colleagues,

Today, the whole world is looking at Montreux. All peace-loving people want this conference to be a milestone and a fresh example of peaceful settlement of conflict.

Today should mark a new starting point in the history of Syria. We are all expecting Syria to begin a new journey and become a stable, prosperous and dignified member of the international community.

A review of human history teaches that with sincerity and concrete action, any conflict, however serious, can be resolved, and any hatred, however deep, can be removed. The Syrian people, who are brothers and sisters in the first place, have no reason to achieve anything less. As a Chinese poem reads, “After all vicissitudes the brotherhood remains; a smile at meeting and enmity is banished.” This is the spirit advocated by Chinese culture and our wish to the Syrian people.

The future of Syria and overall interests of its people require all parties in Syria to seek common ground while shelving differences and be ready to give as well as take. Inflexibility will lead to a dead end; only mutual understanding and accommodation can point the way forward.

Efforts to resolve the issue of Syria brook no delay. What is urgent now is to end hostilities and violence to create the necessary environment for peace talks. At the same time, all parties in Syria should summon up the political will to make the political decisions, keep to the direction of political settlement and draw on useful experience from elsewhere to find a “middle way”, keeping in mind Syria’s national conditions and accommodating the interests of all parties.

“To draw on useful experience” means to learn from the successful practices of other countries in resolving internal conflict and find a solution acceptable to all parties and, on the basis of mutual consent, establish a transitional governing body with full executive powers. Steady progress should be pursued in negotiations. Agreement can be reached first on the principles and framework of negotiation, and early harvest achieved on issues where the two sides are not far apart. As an ongoing process, the Geneva conference should have a clearly-defined follow-up mechanism and serve as an open platform that facilitates the participation of all Syrian parties who are committed to a political settlement.

“Keeping in mind Syria’s national conditions” means to respect the Syrian people’s aspiration for change and at the same time ensure stability and order in the political transition process as well as relative continuity and effectiveness of Syria’s governmental institutions. It is crucial to recognize that there is no military solution and the Syrian people want to see a return of stability and order. Their wish to preserve national unity must be respected and disintegration of the country must be prevented. It is also crucial to appreciate the importance of a stable Syria to peace and security in the Middle East, including preventing the further spread of terrorism and extremism.

“Accommodating the interests of all parties” means to ensure that the political process is broad-based and inclusive so that the views of all parties are fully and fairly reflected. Given the demographic structure and plurality of political reality in Syria, a balance must be struck between the interests of various ethnicities, religions and sects. In this context, it is especially important that the rights and interests of ethnic minorities, refugees and women are guaranteed. Political transition and national reconciliation should be advanced in parallel to preclude any act of ethnic, religious and sectarian discrimination, instigation or retaliation.

The international community should provide constructive help to the two parties in Syria so that they will find this “middle way”, and bring into full play the UN’s role as the main channel of mediation, including suggesting ways to better promote reconciliation. But the international community must avoid imposing any political solution from the outside.

It is not easy for the parties in Syria to sit down at the negotiation table. This hard-won opportunity should be cherished and negotiations must be pursued relentlessly. The negotiations will be painstaking and tortuous for sure. That is why confidence, patience and perseverance are essential. Compromise, mutual accommodation and meeting each other half way are of vital importance for moving forward.

Dear Colleagues,

China has come here to facilitate peace and reconciliation. We are committed to promoting peace talks and a political settlement. We have always adopted an even-handed and balanced position without being partial to any particular party. We respect and support all proposals for political settlement as long as they are generally acceptable to the parties in Syria and in line with the desire of the Syrian people.

To facilitate a political settlement of the Syrian issue, we have proposed five principles: first, the issue must be resolved through political means; second, the future of Syria must be decided by its own people; third, an inclusive political transition process must be promoted; fourth, national reconciliation and unity must be achieved; fifth, humanitarian assistance must be delivered.

To achieve a peaceful settlement of the Syrian issue, China has actively supported and participated in the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. As we speak, a Chinese naval vessel is carrying out an escort mission in the Mediterranean in an effort to help implement the decisions of the UN and OPCW.

To alleviate the sufferings of the Syrian people, we have provided humanitarian assistance to Syria and its neighbors and will offer additional assistance including medical materials. We urge all parties in Syria to do what the Security Council has asked them to do, namely fully cooperate with the UN and relevant agencies as they carry out relief operations, and ensure safe and unhindered access for them. At the same time, we oppose politicizing or militarizing humanitarian issues.

Dear Colleagues,

The conference today is just the beginning of a long march. The journey ahead will be long and arduous. As long as the parties try to seek common ground while shelving differences and move forward hand in hand, there is no gap that cannot be bridged. Together, we will unlock the door to a political settlement of the Syrian issue.

Thank you!

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