Syria in the Spotlight in Opening Week of UN General Assembly
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle met with Lakhdar Brahimi on September 24. (© Photothek / Th. Imo ) New York is ready. Whole streets have been blocked off, heightened security measures hold sway all round the United Nations, and TV teams from around the world are jostling for the best spots. The reason? Foreign ministers and heads of state and government are going to gather here from across the globe for the opening week of the UN General Assembly – held this year from September 25 until October 1.
One of the key topics in the general debate will be the ongoing violence in Syria. Foreign Minister Westerwelle has already discussed the matter with Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the Arab League, having met him on September 24. Brahimi was in Syria and the region recently for talks to explore ways of resolving the conflict.
A difficult task
Speaking after their meeting, Minister Westerwelle pledged Germany’s support for Brahimi in what he called the Special Envoy’s “extremely difficult task.” The goal, he said, was a fresh start in Syrian politics, which would require an end to the violence and the launch of a meaningful political process. He reaffirmed the continuing relevance of Kofi Annan’s six‑point plan as a basis for that process.
Enlarge image (© picture alliance / dpa) At the same time, however, Minister Westerwelle sought to rein in expectations of what could be achieved in the general debate and the numerous satellite meetings. He did not, he said, expect “any major breakthrough” this week, but added that “we must on no account give up – not least because we owe it to the people of Syria.”
Paralysis in the Security Council
After his talks with Westerwelle, Brahimi also briefed an informal meeting of the Security Council about his trip to Syria and the region. Minister Westerwelle described the situation in the Security Council as “highly unsatisfactory.” The Council has been struggling to arrive at a clear and united position on the Syrian situation for months. Three draft resolutions have already failed because of vetoes from China and Russia, the most recent one on July 19, 2012.
Minister Westerwelle expressed the hope that the clear stance being taken in the Arab world – by Egypt’s President Morsi and others – would be taken as a sign that it was time to stand together and take action. The “paralysis and disunity” of the Security Council, he said, was doing nothing for the situation of people in Syria, nor for the authority and significance of the international community.
- Germany is chairing the UN Security Council for the month of September. In his capacity as President of this important body, Foreign Minister Westerwelle will chair a high‑level Security Council session on peace and security in the Middle East on September 26. Germany will remain a non‑permanent UN Security Council member until December 31, 2012.