On 22 January, Syria's government and opposition met for the first time in three years at a U.N. peace conference in Switzerland, along with delegates from international and regional powers. High Representative Catherine Ashton participated in the ‘Geneva 2’ Peace Conference, reiterating the EU's longstanding position of support to the peace process that should lead to a political solution to the conflict.
In her message, the High Representative commended the efforts of UNSG Ban Ki-moon, Joint Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, the Russian Federation and the United States.
The EU has always repeated that the only solution to the conflict is a genuine political transition, based on the full implementation of the Geneva 1 Communiqué, and preserving the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian State.
The events that have unfolded in Syria for almost 3 years are nothing short of a tragedy. The conflict has had an impact far beyond Syria's borders and now endangers peace in the entire region.
The scale of material destruction and displacement of Syrians from their homes has no parallel in recent history. The EU is aware that reaching the goals of the Geneva Communique will take some time and considers it is important for all parties to work on promoting measures to help build confidence. The population is stretched beyond its limits and even small progress would be welcome.
Last week, at the UN humanitarian conference in Kuwait, the EU pledged an additional €550M for the relief effort, raising its overall effort to €2.6B. The EU is also an important contributor to the ongoing process led by OPCW to destroy Syrian chemical weapons.
The EU has consistently supported civil society groups, with a view to achieving a political solution to the conflict and our member states have also provided assistance and capacity building. The EU has repeatedly called for the inclusion of women’s groups in the Geneva 2 process: women have suffered inordinately during the conflict and will be fundamental in the rebuilding of Syria. We will continue in these and other efforts, not least the humanitarian ones, to help Syrians live in dignity, freedom and democracy.