By Olga Denisova
Russia and China vetoed a new draft resolution on Syria, submitted by the Moroccan delegation to the UNSC on Saturday. Moscow described the document as ‘ambiguous’, saying that the outlined tasks were impossible to implement.
Long before the voting at the UNSC it was evident that Moscow would not accept the resolution. Speaking at the 48th Security Conference in Munich, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the draft resolution was ‘incomplete’. During a press-briefing on the sidelines of the conference Mr. Lavrov explained what ‘ambiguity’ he was talking about.
“This problem should be viewed from two sides. First, the document contains very precise demands addressed to the Syrian regime, while, on the contrary, any reference to armed forces operating there lacks clarity, although these armed gangs intimidate local citizens, violate their rights and attack government buildings. For example, among many other demands, here we may find one urging the Syrian government to withdraw its troops from all cities. We suggested that some specification should be made there, demanding an immediate halt of violence from the opposition forces”, Lavrov said.
Without such provisions, the resolution sounds more like a calling to surrender. It is hard to imagine a country’s leader handing over power to illegal armed forces. In this case, the Security Council would either adopt an unrealistic resolution or offer a country facing a choice whether or not approve the draft join a civil war on either of the sides involved in the conflict.
“Secondly, the problem is also about a subject of national dialogue and the way it should be held. The Arab League initiated a peace plan in November which said that there should be no outside interference, while a national dialogue should be started, involving all Syrian political forces, with no attempts made to prejudge its outcome”, Mr. Lavrov said.
The text of the recently vetoed draft resolution says that the dialogue must be started without foreseeing the results. Nevertheless, citing a statement made by the League on January 22, the authors of the draft resolution say that the talks must meet the deadlines set by the League. And the first demand here was to insist on President Assad`s resignation. Russia said that the imposed deadlines were too strict even for the UNSC itself, and submitted its amendments in written form.
“Our amendments do not require any huge efforts to be applied. They just rely on objective data, including a report by the Arab League`s mission in Syria, as well as on the earlier approved initiative that the talks should be held without any provisions. If our colleagues agree to do this, we will get not simply the Moroccan draft resolution but a collective document of the UNSC, backed by every member state. Thus we will succeed in our discussions launched at the end of last year, when Russia first submitted its draft resolution”, Sergei Lavrov explained.
The minister added that the first draft submitted by Morocco was later improved with the help of Russia – the word ‘sanctions’ was removed from the text. Moscow insisted on adding a sentence about banning any forceful methods while handling the crisis in Syria. Russia`s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said, however, that the discussion of amendments was not completed.
Mr. Lavrov warned the UNSC against being too hasty in trying to adopt the draft resolution on Syria. The minister reminded the audience about Resolution 1973 on Libya, which was passed in March 2011. If the UNSC had held a few more rounds of talks on the issue, the Libyan resolution would have contained a far better outlined provisions. Thus, a thorough discussion on a no-fly zone above Libya could have been of great help, making it possible to avoid excessive use of forceful methods. We all saw how the Libyan scenario unfolded. Now an investigation is needed to find out how exactly the UN mandate was applied. That is why Russia is strongly opposed to the Libyan scenario.