China stands for 5 principles in a political settlement of the Syrian issue
- By Wang YiChina.org.cn – Jan 21, 2014
First, the issue of Syria must be resolved through political means.
China welcomes and supports the convocation of Geneva II on 22 January 2014. This will be an important opportunity to promote the political settlement of the Syrian issue. China calls on all parties in Syria to actively participate in Geneva II.
Military action is no answer to the issue of Syria. All parties should voice their demands through dialogue and negotiation rather than seeking gains through armed conflict. We call on all parties in Syria to seize the opportunity presented by Geneva II, commit themselves to the full, balanced and effective implementation of the Geneva Communiqué, and support and work closely with the UN Secretary-General and the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria in their mediation efforts.
The meeting in Geneva, marking the beginning of dialogue and negotiation, should be an ongoing process. Thus, a clearly defined follow-up mechanism is needed to keep the dialogue, negotiation and other political efforts going. It is essential that negotiation is not just launched, but more importantly pushed forward until practical results are achieved. The meeting in Geneva should be an open platform and the door of peace talks should be open to all parties in Syria committed to a political settlement so that they will take an active part in the process and play their role.
While dialogue and negotiation are going on, all parties in Syria must put an end to all armed conflict and violence, taking credible and visible actions such as humanitarian pause, ceasefire region by region or phase by phase, and disengagement as first steps to build and enhance mutual trust. The international community should provide assistance within the UN framework to support and monitor the ceasefire.
Second, the future of Syria must be decided by its own people.
To resolve the issue of Syria, efforts must be made at the domestic, regional and international levels. The political transition process in Syria must be Syrian-led, and the future of Syria, ultimately, can only be decided by the Syrian people themselves.
The international community must uphold the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations, be committed to maintaining Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity and respect the will and choice of the Syrian people. The international community needs to take a just, balanced and impartial approach in dealing with all parties in Syria, create favorable conditions and a necessary environment for the formulation of a political transition plan and avoid external imposition of political solutions on Syria. It is necessary to uphold and give play to the role of the United Nations as the main channel of mediation.
China values and supports the positive role played by regional countries in seeking a political settlement of the Syrian issue.
Third, an inclusive political transition process must be promoted.
The goals of the process are as follows: to stop the bloodshed, oppose terrorism and restore stability and order; to ensure equal opportunities for all ethnicities, religions and sects, establish a just and reasonable power structure and political arrangement, and meet the aspiration of the Syrian people for a democratic, pluralistic and harmonious country; to make headway in the reconstruction process; and to turn Syria into an important force for peace and stability in the Middle East.
China has taken note of the differences and disagreements among parties in Syria in their positions and demands. Inflexibility can only lead to a dead end while mutual understanding and accommodation will point a way forward. We hope that all parties in Syria act in the interest of the future and destiny of the country and the overall interest of the people, summon up political will, meet each other half way, and blaze a "middle way" by drawing on useful regional and international experience while keeping in mind Syria's national conditions and the interests of all parties.
China hopes that parties in Syria reach agreement at an early date on the specific arrangements and reasonable timeframe for the political transition process, form, on the basis of mutual consent, a transitional governing body with full executive powers, and maintain the continuity and effectiveness of Syria's governmental institutions. China respects and supports all the proposals on political transition that are widely acceptable to parties in Syria.
Fourth, national reconciliation and unity must be achieved in Syria.
Realizing national reconciliation is a longstanding and arduous task facing Syria. The national reconciliation process, as part and parcel of the political settlement of the Syrian issue, should be advanced in parallel with the political transition process in a mutually reinforcing manner. To this end, parties in Syria should release a greater number of arbitrarily detained persons; the political process must be broad-based and inclusive so that the views of all parties in Syria are fully reflected and the rights and interests of ethnic minorities, refugees and women are truly guaranteed; acts of ethnic, religious and sectarian discrimination, instigation and retaliation must be prevented; national reconciliation dialogue must be launched in the interest of national unity of Syria; and human rights and basic freedom must be respected and protected.
Fifth, humanitarian assistance must be delivered in Syria and its neighboring countries.
The international community needs to step up humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria and ensure that both refugees outside Syria and people in need inside Syria have timely access to such assistance. As has been urged by the Security Council, all parties in Syria ought to fully cooperate with the United Nations and relevant international agencies as they carry out humanitarian relief operations in all conflict-affected regions. Their safe and unhindered access to these regions must be ensured. The international community should uphold the principles of humanity, impartiality and neutrality, adhere to the guiding humanitarian principles of the United Nations, and make sure that humanitarian issues are not politicized and humanitarian assistance is not militarized.
Wang Yi is the Chinese Foreign Minister working on the Syrian Peace Conference.