UN calls for Syrian conflict talks to be separated from war in Ukraine


Published: 2022-07-29 20:12

Last Updated: 2022-08-11 05:02

Source: World Bank
Source: World Bank

The United Nations on Friday asked that current disputes not affect the Syrian talks in Geneva, which have been forcibly suspended by Russia, which appears to consider that Switzerland is no longer neutral since the war in Ukraine.

The ninth round of talks on drafting a new Syrian constitution was scheduled to take place July 25-29 in Geneva, under the supervision of the UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen.

Pedersen's spokeswoman, Jennifer Fenton, told reporters in Geneva that the Syrian side "informed Mr. Pedersen that his delegation would not be ready to participate in the ninth session until (...) fulfilling the requests of the Russian Federation."

It did not say in detail what the Russian demands were. Observers said that Moscow objected to the meeting place, saying that Switzerland is no longer neutral since it imposed sanctions on Russian officials in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine this year.

Syria and Russia have been allies for decades, but relations have greatly strengthened due to the impact of the Syrian conflict and Moscow's military intervention since 2015 on the side of the Syrian regime.

Pedersen briefed the UN Security Council Thursday on the situation. He pointed out that the postponement of the meeting in Geneva was "unfortunate and frustrating, especially as it resulted from issues unrelated to the Syrian file," according to Fenton.

She added, "He urged all parties to put in place a firewall that protects the Syrian process from the impact of conflicts taking place elsewhere in the world, and puts the interests of the Syrians in the first place."

The spokeswoman indicated that when the constitutional committee was proposed in 2018, one of its conditions was that it "hold its meetings in Geneva without outside interference."

At the conclusion of the eighth round of talks in early June, Pedersen declared that the talks had made little progress and that "differences remained significant on some texts".

Since 2011, Syria has been witnessing a bloody conflict that has killed nearly half a million people, caused massive destruction to infrastructure and productive sectors, and led to the displacement and displacement of millions of people inside and outside the country.