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The European Union is willing to provide for the early recovery in the de-escalation zones and the liberated areas of Syria while continueing to work on and invest in the future of the country, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said today at a High level event organised by the EU in the margins of UN General Assembly (UNGA).
With a second conference to be held next spring, the EU and the international community will launch the “Brussels Process” that “will put our convening power at the service of the Syrian people”, Mogherini said.
Such work would support the Geneva talks on a political transition, which remain the only viable path towards ending the war and stabilising the country, Mogherini stressed.
The war in Syria is not yet over; the people of Syria are still suffering, Mogherini said. The longer the war continues, the slower the recovery will be and the reconciliation will be more difficult and more painful.
The EU is the leading donor supporting Syrians, both inside the country and in the region, with almost €10 billion mobilised for humanitarian, development, economic and stabilisation assistance since the start of the conflict. At the Brussels Conference last April the international community pledged collectively more than $9 billion over two years.
“We are the ones who are trying to build solutions: humanitarian, political, economic, social solutions,” Mogherini said earlier this week during an interview with Sky News Arabia.
The EU is now ready to take the next step, the High Representative announced at UNGA, supporting the stabilisation of the areas where violence has decreased, linking this process with Astana and Geneva and also starting to plan for future reconstruction, making clear that it will only start when the political transition will be agreed in Geneva".
Progress made in Astana has helped reduce violence and define de-escalation zones. “For many Syrians this makes the difference between life and death”, Mogherini said.
Syrians living in these areas need food and medicines. But they also want to go back to their lives, the High Representative said.
“For this reason, we in the European Union are now looking into means of support that go beyond classical humanitarian aid: for instance, we have great expertise in de-mining, and we could work on early recovery, providing basic services and health facilities. Helping life start again, where it can start again” Mogherini said.
However, local reconciliation agreements cannot hold in the lack of a broad political agreement. “That is why this conference next year is not only about humanitarian support, but it is also about our support to the political process in Geneva,” the High Representative said.
The EU firmly believes that there can be no long-lasting peace without an inclusive agreement negotiated in Geneva under UN auspices with a unified Syria where all Syrians can feel at home.
“With the progress made in Astana and on the ground, it is time for the parties in Geneva to start serious work,” the High representative said.
Planning the future reconstruction can be a powerful leverage for the political process, as the economic reconstruction of the country will start only when the political transition is agreed upon in Geneva.
“Let us be clear: we will only go from this early recovery to reconstruction once a credible and inclusive political agreement has been reached. But we will be prepared when the day of peace finally comes, because we believe it can come.”
The EU is closely tracking the progress made since the Brussels Conference last April in order to move from pledging to delivering. The Second Brussels Conference will also offer the international community the opportunity to come together and “affirm and confirm both our financial commitment and our political will,” the High Representative said.
“We could use the perspective of reconstruction as a powerful tool to facilitate reconciliation and to encourage a political agreement,” Mogherini said.
“This is why our work is so important – today, and next spring in Brussels. We can close together one of the darkest chapters in our modern history.”