A Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giulio Terzi, on the Syrian Crisis

ROME, INTER-MINISTERIAL MEETING ON THE SYRIAN CRISIS, 28 FEBRUARY 2013.

On 28 February 2013, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, delivered a speech in the framework of an inter-ministerial meeting on the Syrian crisis that was convened in Rome and was attended by the representatives of 34 Countries, including the United States Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, and the head of the Syrian Opposition Forces Coalition, Mr Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib. He underlined that there was a common sense of urgency as to the need of taking new steps towards the resolution of the crisis, and that this was the reason why he accepted

the request of the Secretary of State to summon the countries that are most involved in the crisis in order to have an operational meeting, [and] open it up to the Syrian National Coalition, because we see the coalition as being the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

I thank all the foreign affairs ministers, my colleagues, who have come today. And in the past three hours this morning, we’ve been saying that we have to shoulder responsibilities that can no longer be postponed. The suffering of the Syrian people is forcing us to go above and beyond the efforts that have been made to now. We must be able to reach a turning point. 70,000 victims are a huge weight on the conscience of the international community. We can no longer allow this massacre to continue. We cannot allow the bombings to continue, and clearly not with SCUD missiles, the massacre, illegal detention. The regime is perpetrating crimes against humanity, crimes against its own people.

He then recalled the concrete actions taken by Italy, and stressed its willingness to bring its involvement to a further stage:

In the past few months, together with our main partners in Europe and together with the United Nations as well, we’ve taken action on the humanitarian plane in order to alleviate the suffering of 2 million internally displaced persons and thousands of refugees. We’ve allocated 30 million Euros to help neighboring countries to alleviate this suffering as well. And we’ve supported the different components of the coalition in seeking a leadership and a unitary program of action. And we want to have a strong convincing alternative to the dictatorship.

Today – as I was saying, today’s meeting here in Rome has given us a new momentum. I think that we’re taking a step forward, first of all, because we are taking the responsibility to provide not only humanitarian support but material assistance to the coalition as well. This stepped up support must be perceived directly in the Syrian territory through our support to local councils in the liberated areas. And we’ve also talked about the possibility to open humanitarian corridors and to be closely coordinated with all the countries who’ve met here today.

After having highlighted the role of the opposition by saying that it “has to be able to fully play the role that it has in order to build up a new democratic Syria”, he warned the regime of Damascus, recalling its duties:

They have to stop violence, they have to release political prisoners, and they have to clearly enable a democratic and pluralist Syria with the exiting of Assad. Of course, all countries working side by side with the coalition are involved, and we can say that the Syrian people will never be left alone.

The full version of the speech can be found at:

http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interventi/2013/02/20130301_Dichiarazioni_Terzi_Kerry_Moaz.htm

(download here)

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