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"There is no winner in this war. There might be military victories, but there is no winner in this war - certainly not the people of Syria, who are paying the highest price," the High Representative Federica Mogherini said announcing Brussels III on the Future of Syria and the region on the last week of March 2019 during an EU side event on Syria at the UN General Assembly. The side event saw a high turnout of participation of Foreign Ministers from around the world.
"And nobody will win, neither the war nor the peace, without a negotiated political solution. A negotiated political solution that opens the way towards a united, independent, democratic and inclusive Syria," she said.
The Brussels II Conference last spring was crucial to raise humanitarian support for the Syrian people and the host communities. "And I am proud to tell you that we have already delivered on 95% of the pledges that were made in Brussels last spring" Mogherini said.
Next year, the conference will be more focused on the political support the EU can mobilise to accompany negotiations under the UN auspices. The HRVP held a number of bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Russia, Iran and several Arab countries In the margins of the UN General Assembly.
"This is the moment to pull all our weight in support of the UN process, of your work, Staffan de Mistura, so that we can finally see the beginning of the end of the Syrian war."
Brussels III will also feature Syrian women, youth and civil society.
"Too often we discuss of Syria, but not with Syrians," the High Representative said.
"Expect the Conference to be a Syrian week, providing the stage for the best parts of the Syrian society" Mogherini said.
"They are Syria – and the future of Syria must be in their hands, not ours," Mogherini said.
"Every Syrian dreams to go back home. And we can only support this dream" the High Representative said thanking countries hosting refugees. However, Mogherini added that only a tiny percentage of refugees are willing to return to Syria in the current circumstances.
Syria is not safe for them to return. "Still today, most Syrians simply do not have a home to go back to. Their properties are being confiscated, and many would risk forced conscription or unlawful arrest". Argues Mogherini.
Still, Europeans are willing to contribute to the reconstruction, but a political process must be firmly under way, the High Representative said. "Most Syrians don't want to go back to a country where there is no accountability, and where political detainees are still in jail," she added.
The High Representative warned that a negotiated political solution can only emerge in the United Nations' framework and that is why the international community should focus on supporting the action of UN Special Envoy Staffan DeMistura. Beyond Idlib – where another massacre was avoided after the deal between Turkey and Russia – Syria is still not at peace.
Despite eight years of war, thousands of Syrians are still taking to the streets peacefully to ask for democracy and peace.
" Against all odds, I believe a political solution is still possible and we could be very close to achieving it but only if we all work to make it happen," Mogherini said.