Remarks by Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Union Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov at the inauguration ceremony of the exhibition “Syria: Photo Chronicles” in the European Parliament (Strasbourg, 14 November 2017)
Distinguished Members of the European Parliament and participants of the inauguration ceremony,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome you at the opening ceremony of the exhibition presenting photographs taken by Russian journalists in Syria. Using this opportunity, I would like to emphasise that today’s event has not only a political but also an immense humanitarian dimension. No words would serve better than photographs presented in this hall to demonstrate the urgent need to end the fratricidal conflict tearing apart a country that just a short time ago was seen as one of the most stable and prosperous in the Middle East, a nation Russia is bound with by long-standing friendly relations.
Alas, the war in Syria has been going on for years now. But it is in days, not in years, that local people count their grief and sufferings and, more importantly, dreams of peaceful future, hopes for the best, for restoration of the country and of their decent life in it.
The recent dynamic developments in Syria inspire hope for ultimate elimination of the terrorist hotbed and for an agreement among Syrians that would lay the groundwork for launching a genuine political process. Step
by step the Astana meetings, counting seven rounds so far, are setting the stage for this. The establishment of de-escalation zones has already brought tangible improvements on the ground. Conditions slowly emerge for getting back to peaceful life and restoration of what was destroyed, not only with regard to material damage, but also trust between various groups of people. We appeal to the international community to support the process of de-escalation and stabilisation in Syria by providing additional humanitarian aid to the country’s population, contributing to humanitarian demining, preserving historical heritage, restoring basic facilities and socio-economic infrastructure.
And obviously progress needs to be accelerated in ensuring a long-term and sustainable settlement in the Syrian Arab Republic based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Our efforts shall also contribute to the advancement of inter-Syrian consultations in Geneva. A Congress of Syrian national dialogue is soon to be held in the city of Sochi, with representatives of 33 Syrian political forces invited. The main task, as we see it, is to contribute to preservation of Syria as a united, independent and sovereign, territorially integral, secular democratic state. Only this will make it possible to fulfil aspirations of the Syrians who will determine the future of their country on their own. Dialogue is long overdue. We need to seize this moment.
Before you turn your attention to the truly unique photographs taken by Russian journalists, let me say that this exhibition is a tribute to Syrian people who do not bend to terrorists’ shells and bullets, a tribute to journalists who daily risk their lives fulfilling their hard and dangerous mission covering the situation in combat zones, and a tribute to all those sincerely wishing peace on the
long-suffering Syrian soil.
In conclusion I would like to express my particular gratitude to the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to the Russia-EU Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, Mr. Jiří Maštálka for his efforts to make this exhibition happen.