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UN and EU say Geneva talks must restart to keep Syria intact

Senior diplomats warn that progress on the ground must be backed up urgently by a push for a political settlement.

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UN and EU say Geneva talks must restart to keep Syria intact

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Both the UN’s envoy on Syria and the EU’s foreign policy chief, meeting in New York on Thursday, have warned that the Geneva talks must resume to try to end the conflict.

Federica Mogherini warned that without agreement, the country would break up leading to more unrest. A new conference is planned in Brussels next week.

The UN’s envoy said progress in establishing a series of conflict-free zones made a settlement all the more urgent.

Staffan De Mistura turned his sights on Damascus: “What has to change is the Syrian government’s will to negotiate, till now we have spoken about how to prepare ourselves for the negotiation,” he said. “We must help Syria to reconstruct; for all of that a political process is necessary.”

Also present in New York were human rights investigators.

Set up by the UN, the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) is working behind the scenes to gather evidence from Syria that could be used for prosecutions.

Diplomats are being accused of failing to take account of justice and accountability.

“One of the shortcomings of the Geneva negotiations, the political track, is not prioritising justice, accountability, victims redress. For example, De Mistura failed miserably in delivering anything about detainees in Syria,” Mohammad Al Abdallah, Executive Director of the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC), told euronews.

More money has been pledged: the EU – a leading donor for Syrians – wants to link the cash and humanitarian support to political developments.

Euronews correspondent in New York, Michela Monte, said:
“Countries that took part in the EU’s meeting agreed to reconfirm their commitment towards implementing pledges worth 5.6 billion agreed in Brussels. The IIIM obtained 2.5 million euros thanks to an engagement made here in New York by Norway.”