UN Security Council agreement gives hope for peace process in Syria

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'The fact that the Security Council has unanimously adopted resolution 2254, endorsing the road map for the peace process in Syria, is of historic importance. It shows that the international community is now finally united in seeking to find a political solution to the devastating and protracted civil war in Syria. This is a civil war that has caused a humanitarian disaster for the people of Syria and a migration crisis unlike anything we have seen since the Second World War,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

'It is now vital to secure a ceasefire for Syria as soon as possible, so that humanitarian aid can reach the civilian population in this war-torn country,' said Mr Brende.

The work carried out by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) has paved the way for today's decision in the Security Council.

'There is every reason to commend the ISSG for the work it has done. The close cooperation between the US, Russia and a number of other key countries, as well as the UN, has been crucial for bringing efforts to resolve the conflict back onto a political track. The UN Security Council decision increases the legitimacy of the international community's efforts, and is a significant step in the right direction, towards a political solution to the crisis,' said Mr Brende.

The recent meeting convened by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, which brought together a broad spectrum of the Syrian opposition, was also an important step forward in the peace process. The opposition has adopted a mandate and agreed to create a High Negotiations Committee to elect and oversee the team of negotiators that will discuss Syria's political transition. This is essential for the Geneva negotiations, which will be resumed.

'We are looking forward to seeing a resumption of the UN-led Geneva negotiations between the parties to the conflict in Syria in early 2016. Norway is providing political and financial support for UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura's efforts to achieve a political solution to the conflict,' said Mr Brende.

'If these negotiations are to succeed, it is vital that the parties reach a ceasefire agreement as soon as possible, and that they respect this agreement. Having said this, the Security Council resolution specifically notes that the ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against the terrorist organisations ISIL and Al-Nusra Front (ANF), which will still be fought militarily and by other important means,' said Mr Brende.

'Although there is still a long way to go before there is peace in Syria, the efforts we are seeing now to find a solution to the conflict will hopefully bring about a gradual improvement in the situation. I am pleased that the resolution also emphasises the need for humanitarian assistance and highlights the importance of the forthcoming London Conference on Syria,' said Mr Brende.

Norway will co-host the Syria Donors Conference in London, together with the UK, Germany, Kuwait and the UN, and was one of the initiators of the Conference, which will be held in the beginning of February. Norway has provided around NOK 1.77 billion in response to the crises in Syria and Iraq in 2015, and is one of the biggest donors. The Government intends to maintain and increase its level of support in 2016.