Transcript: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 1, 2012
Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang based on English translations provided by the United Nations.
Transcript of remarks by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem at the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 1, 2012:
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, our world today faces many events that are affecting its states and continue to cast a shadow on the international arena.
Many countries are facing political, economic and financial crises whose consequences exceed the capacities of countries to individually cope with.
And while the people of the world await effective and coordinated international efforts to overcome these crises, reality indicates instead an escalation of hegemony and domination over the fortunes of nations and people in a way that contradicts the principles and purposes enshrined in the charter of the United Nations and the norms of international law.
Instead of seeking to contribute to the settlement of regional and international disputes by peaceful means, some well-known countries continue to pursue new colonial policies based on political hypocrisy in dealing with these crises.
Under the pretext of humanitarian intervention, these countries interfere in the domestic affairs of states and impose unilateral economic sanctions that lack moral and legal basis.
And under the pretext of concepts such as the responsibility to protect, the drums of war are beaten and the seeds of sedition and unrest are sown to damage the structure of national societies.
And what is worst of all, perhaps, is to see permanent members of the Security Council, who have launched wars under the excuse of combatting terrorism, now supporting terrorism in my country without any regard to United Nations resolutions that have established regulations and mechanisms for concerted international efforts to fight this scourge away from political polarization and double standards.
Mr. President, for more than a year now, my country has been facing organized terrorism that has affected our citizens and our human and scientific resources and national establishments and many of Syria’s historic and archaeological landmarks through terrorist bombings, assassinations, and massacres, through looting and acts of sabotage that have horrified citizens in many parts of Syria.
The most recent example of this is the terrorist bombing that recently took place in Damascus on the 26th of September 2012. A terrorist group with the name of [Al-Nusrah], one of Al Qaeda’s arms, took the responsibility for this attack and it is not a surprise that the Security Council has failed to condemn this and other terrorist bombings because some of its members support such act.
This terrorism, which is externally supported, is accompanied by unprecedented media provocation based on igniting religious extremism sponsored by well-known states in the region. These states facilitate the sales of arms, money, and fighters through the borders of some neighboring countries. These states also turn a blind eye to the activities of terrorist groups crossing their borders while others provide active material and logistical support from their territories for such groups.
These acts lead me to question whether the international consensus by our states on combatting terrorism was serious or was it merely ink on paper.
In what context can we classify the explicit request by the United States to the armed terrorist groups not to surrender their arms as a response to amnesty decrees and decisions issued by the Syrian leadership?
We also wonder to what extent the statements made by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United States, France and others – to what extent do these statements, which clearly incite and support terrorism in Syria with money, weapons, and foreign fighters – to what extent are these in line with the international responsibilities of these countries in combatting terrorism?
One of the ironies that we face today is represented by encouraging extremists in countries within and outside our region to go to the borders of Syria and enter the country to carry out terrorist acts under the name of jihad in collaboration with terrorists from the inside. This is a fact that has been confirmed in reports by both international and Arab observers before them.
As a result of this terrorism, Syria has lost thousands of martyrs from among its military ranks and civilians as a price for its efforts to defend the integrity of the Syrian state and its citizens in the face of this global terrorist campaign.
Mr. President, the Syrian government called for dialogue at the beginning of the events in my country. But this call did not find any positive response from most opposition parties. Moreover, my government responded positively throughout the crisis to each and every sincere initiative that aimed to find a peaceful solution – a solution that is based on national dialogue among Syrians, that rejects external manipulation, and that stops the shedding of Syrian blood and that preserves the unity of Syria and its future.
Based on this principled position and despite the Syrian leadership’s conviction that there are no sincere intention among some regional and international parties that pushed for the escalation of the Syrian crisis and which fueled its fire and feed it by forcing all attempts for dialogue and insisting on creating a state of instability to ensure the need for foreign interference – despite all this, Syria cooperated with the Arab observers’ mission and the subsequent international initiatives linked to the work of the United Nations Special Envoy Kofi Annan
After this principle, Syria received the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMS) and furnished it with all facilities needed to enable them to deploy in Syria in an unprecedented record time.
The Syrian leadership also announced its full commitment to the implementation of the 6-point plan presented by Mr. Annan and started the practical implementation of its provisions. It also welcomed the Geneva communique that stressed the need for the implementation of these provisions.
However, the behavior of the armed groups, which sought to exploit the Syrian government’s commitment to the plan and to the Geneva communique in order to make gains on the ground and expand areas of their presence.
Added to that, the statements issued by some Western and Arab countries – all of these have exposed the actors’ and states’ working to thwart all these initiatives.
Syria has welcomed the appointment of Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi as the special representative of the Secretary General to succeed Mr. Annan. It has stressed its willingness to fully cooperate with him and other principles as agreed upon by the international community, particularly the 6-point plan and the Geneva communique.
I would like to tell you that the success of any international efforts require – in addition to the commitment of the Syrian government – a commitment by the states supporting armed groups in my country and at the forefront of which come Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya and others – a commitment by them to stop arming, funding, training, and harboring armed terrorist groups and to encourage dialogue and renounce violence.
Mr. President, for more than one year now, Syria has been saying that my country is witnessing a two-sided problem. The first side is linked to the need for political, economic and social reforms demanded by the public. The second side is the exploitation of those social needs and demands for objectives that are completely different from the demands of the Syrian people and their interests and using these peaceful demands as a vehicle for armed groups to show sedition and undermine security in my country. I referred to this in my speech from this very podium last year.
I’ve returned today to tell you that the state in Syria has taken serious and important reform measures that were culminated in a new constitution that embraces political pluralism and was adopted by a popular referendum upon which parliamentary election were held, which were opened to multiple political parties. And now I tell you that Syria is continuing to work with the patriotic elements in the opposition to build a new and pluralistic Syria that meets the aspirations of its people.
Syria, at the same time, is determined to carry out its duties and protect its people from jihadist and [sectarian] terrorism which armed terrorist groups are using to spread chaos and create sedition among Syrians and threaten their peaceful coexistence.
Mr. President, we heard from this podium…some calls that were made by those who were ignorant of the fact – or maybe ignoring them or may be contributing to their spread – calling on the President of the Syrian Arab Republic to step down. This is blatant interference in the domestic affairs of Syria and the unity of its people and its sovereignty.
The Syrian people and only the Syrian people are authorized to choose their own future and the form of their state, which accommodates all groups and throughout the entire spectrum of the Syrian people including those who are deceived and misled. The Syrian people are the ones to choose their leadership through the ballot box, which is the most important means of democracy and democratic expression.
If some countries which interfere in the internal affairs of Syria are proud of their democracy and the freedom of choice of their people, then it is better for those countries to support us in our democratic course and leave the Syrian people to choose their leadership through elections whose form has been set by the new constitution and relevant legislation and then the ballot box will have the final say.
I say to those countries, “Enough illusions.” And I invite the national opposition to work together to stop the shedding of Syrian blood and to sit at the dialogue table and participate in defining the present and the future of Syria.
We do not wager on any party or factor apart from the Syrian people who are uniformly determined to reject all forms of foreign interference in their domestic affairs and to defeat the advocates of the projects of sectarianism, extremism, and terrorism because the bond is very strong in my country between the policies of the state and the aspirations of the people.
Mr. President, despite everything I have described on what my country is living through, we still believe in a political solution as an essential way out of this crisis.
And from this platform, I call for the following:
First, I call all parties and political groups inside and outside Syria to engage in a constructive dialogue under the umbrella of the homeland. The doors of Syria as is her heart are open to anyone who wants constructive dialogue.
And to achieve this, I call all countries represented in the General Assembly to exert pressure to end the violence in my country through putting an end to the arming, financing, harboring, and training of armed terrorist groups.
Second, the results of this national dialogue after agreement by all parties shall be the map and the future way of the country in establishing a Syria that is more pluralistic and democratic.
Mr. President, these events in Syria have led to growing humanitarian needs in several key sectors in areas affected by the terrorism of [incomprehensible audio] groups. This has led to the worsening of the living conditions of Syrian citizens and one my government is working hard to meet the basic needs of citizens who have been forced by the violence of armed groups to flee their homes.
Some have sought to fabricate a refugee crisis in neighboring countries through inciting armed groups to intimidate Syrian civilians in border areas and forcing them to flee to neighboring countries. There, they’re either accommodated in military training bases or in what resembles places of detentions amid arid or rugged regions and exploit their plight to gather aid that is mostly spent on [things] that have nothing to do with humanitarian objectives.
I appeal from this podium to those Syrian citizens to return to their towns and villages where the Syrian state will guarantee their safe return and their precious lives away from inhumane conditions they suffer in these camps.
At this point, allow me to ask some legitimate questions about the credibility of those who claim to care for providing humanitarian access and the response to the needs of the Syrians and to question the consistency of these claims with the policy of tightening economic sanctions that are badly affecting the living conditions of these same citizens whose interests those imposing the sanctions claim to serve. How can imposing sanctions on the banking, health, and transport sectors be consistent with caring for the best interests of the Syrians?
I also wonder if the legitimate public demands of our citizens to which our Syrian leadership has responded transparently and sincerely, whether these demands can justify their use by some as an excuse to continue providing all forms of military, financial and media support to those who’s killing innocents in Syria, including journalists, doctors, university professors and even religious figures. Or is this simply another practical implementation interpretation of the concept of creative chaos, which only contributes to strengthening western hegemony on Mediterranean countries and would serve only Israel’s expansionist interests?
Mr. President, what is happening in my country must not lead us to lose our basic focus, which is Palestine and the Golan. Therefore, the Syrian Arab Republic confirms its adherence to her natural right to restore the full occupied Syrian Golan up the June 6, 1967 borders. Syria’s refusal and rejection of all measure by Israel – the occupying power – to change the natural geographic aspects of the Golan as a clear violation of the resolutions of the Security Council, particularly Resolution 497 of the year 1981.
Syria renews its support for the legitimate call upon the international community to recognize a free and independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. The failure to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East on the basis of the international terms of reference endorsed by the international community as the basis for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis is due – as everyone knows – to the unilateral positions and actions of Israel, especially Israel’s insistence on continuing its settlement policy and its evasion of the requirements of peace.
Mr. President, my country renew its call upon the international community to work on freeing the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction. In this context, we recall the initiatives presented at the end of 2003 during its membership of the Security Council by Syria as we called upon the council to adopt Syria’s [proposal] of clearing the region of all weapons of mass destruction will not be achieved without making Israel the only nuclear power in the region but by joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and placing its nuclear facilities under the inspection of the regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency. At the same time, we emphasized on the stipulations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which guaranteed the rights of all states to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Mr. President, the insistence of the United States and countries of the European Union and others to impose unilateral economic measures violate the regulations in which international law under the principles of free trade and raises questions about the legality and morality of such practices.
Based on this, we call for lifting the embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States for decades. We also renew our call for lifting and stopping all unilateral coercive measures imposed on the people of other countries such as Venezuela, Belarus, Iran, Syria, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Mr. President, our aspiration to achieve positive reform of the international organization stems from our desire to find a world based on justice, security, and prosperity for all the people of the world – away from the colonial hegemonic tendencies of some countries that seek to exploit the United Nations to achieve their own interests at the expense of other countries.
We hope that the United Nations can take the people of the world to a better future that fulfills their aspirations for life, coexistence, development, and [incomprehensible audio] and away from all forms of tension, confrontation and war pursuant to what the United Nations charter stipulates in its principles and purposes, which seek to preserve the sovereignty of states and equality among them in rights.
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