"This war will never be ended by weapons. This war can only really be ended by mediation and by a true reconciliation within the Syrian society," said High Representative Federica Mogherini at a EU hosted Ministerial event on the Syria crisis in the margins of UNGA. "This conflict can only be ended through a broad political agreement under the UN auspices," Mogherini added.
The EU hosted event was the first meeting on Syria following the UN announcement of an agreement on the formation of a Constitutional Committee. It brought together several foreign ministers from Europe and the region with a high level of attendance.
"This is the first agreement between Syrians since the start of the crisis in 2011. The first such agreement that has not been imposed by outside parties. This is a real step forward for the whole country and for all of us who have been working so much," said the High Representative thanking UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen and his predecessor Staffan de Mistura.
The Syria Constitutional Committee is a very important step in creating the conditions for a political solution, although it is not the political solution itself as the High Representative highlighted.
"This should be seen first and foremost as an opportunity for further steps forward on the ground and with a real impact on the life of the Syrian people," she said.
A political solution can emerge under the auspices of the United Nations, a goal that the EU always supported also hosting three consecutive Brussels conferences on "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region".
The conferences were much more than just donors conferences. They brought to the table not only the decision-makers but also the voice of Syrian civil society and, most importantly, the voice of Syrian women in particular, especially at Brussels III last March.
"On a personal level, I have to say that the determination and resolve of Syrian women has given me hope, because if they, coming from very different backgrounds, managed to find some common ground in very hard times, I believe that the entire society of Syria will be able to reconcile and to find a peaceful future that it deserves," the High Representative said speaking of the work done with the Brussels process.
Bringing together Syrian civil society and international community, at UNGA as in the Brussels Conferences, the EU sent a reminder that "a political solution has to be grounded in the Syrian reality and in Syria's society. It has to take into account the aspiration of Syria to a new Syria – strong, peaceful and inclusive," Mogherini said.
And even on the donors' side, "we have kept our collective promise to the Syrian people and to Syria’s neighbours," the High Representative added.
For 2019, 92 per cent of the pledges made last march have been already delivered. The Brussels III Conference raised a record figure of €8.3 billion, of which two thirds came from contribution from the European Union.
While there are encouraging news on the political track and the good work done can be acknowledged, the event on the margins of UNGA was also an occasion to recommit collectively on what needs to be done next.
Millions of Syrians are still displaced because of the conflict, both inside and outside of Syria.
"We know that every Syrian refugee dreams about going back home. And we all want to support their dream," the High Representative said thanking the countries and communities that continue so to host millions of Syrian refugees in the region.
Syrian refugees have a right to return. And in fact, some refugees are already doing so.
"Yet these people cannot be forced to go back. The conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return must be there. No one can be forced to go back. Too many Syrians are facing arbitrary arrest and forced conscription when they go home. Many others have seen their properties confiscated," Mogherini said.
A way will need to be found, no doubt with UNHCR playing a leading role to ensure that those returning to Syria are doing so in a safe, voluntary and dignified manner, the High Representative added.
"A political solution can emerge from the work that can be carried on in these coming weeks and months," Mogherini said.
The EU, as usual, will be there with its full support to allow the UN to fulfil this important task, the High Representative concluded.