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25.11.2020 (16:14)

The Russian Defenсe Ministry summed up the results of the International Conference on the Return of Syrian Refugees, held in Damascus on November 11-12

Speech by Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev.

Dear colleagues!

Before opening today's meeting, I would like to appeal to our Syrian friends and express our deepest condolences from the Russian side in connection with the death of the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of the Syrian Arab Republic, Mr. Walid al-Muallem. He was a worthy citizen of his country, a true patriot, who made a huge contribution to the defense of national interests in the international arena, as well as to the development of bilateral relations between Russia and Syria.

Dear colleagues!

Today we are holding the next joint meeting of the interdepartmental coordination headquarters of Russia and Syria, at which we will sum up the results of the International Conference on the Return of Syrian Refugees held on November 11-12, 2020 in Damascus.

We note that representatives of the UN traditionally take part in our event. I would like to thank the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Syrian Arab Republic, Mr. Imran Rizu, who represented the structures of the World Organization at the last forum in Damascus, for participating in today's meeting. I am glad to welcome the head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria, Mr. Philip Sperri.

Separately, I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Dr. Bashar al-Assad and the entire Syrian government for their efforts to organize such a large-scale and important international humanitarian forum not only for Syria, but for the entire Middle East region.

The conference was held at the highest organizational level, both from the point of view of detailed planning and provision of all the events provided for by the Forum's Program, and from the point of view of ensuring security.

Despite the unprecedented campaign of boycotting the conference launched by the United States of America and its European allies, a decent representative level of its participants was ensured. All this allowed the forum delegates to exchange views on a wide range of humanitarian issues, the solution of which requires the coordinated efforts of the world community.

The participation of 27 states in the conference demonstrated their real interest in an early political settlement of the conflict and resolution of humanitarian problems in Syria. It is regrettable that a number of countries wishing to take part in the forum's events were unable to overcome the pressure exerted by Western countries and send their representatives to Damascus.

We believe that the US leadership has once again shown its hypocrisy and adherence to double standards, when contrived principles and opportunistic interests are prioritized above humanitarian issues of preserving the life and health of ordinary people.

Recognizing the important role of the United States in resolving the region's problems, Syria and Russia provided the American side with opportunities for a Damascus site with a high status and expert representation to participate in joint work. In response, a refusal was received and unfounded criticism of those who really contribute to the return of Syrian citizens to their homeland.

These US actions to block exclusively humanitarian initiatives indicate only one thing - the desire to maintain hotbeds of tension in this country for as long as possible in order to justify its illegal presence in Syria and further plunder the natural resources of the sovereign Syrian state.

We remind you that the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland is important not only for Damascus, but also for all countries experiencing great stress due to the presence of millions of Syrian citizens on their territory. Interfering with the process of voluntary return of refugees, Western countries artificially creating additional problems for their own citizens.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that all forum participants positively perceived the Syrian initiative to hold an international conference in Damascus aimed at returning their citizens to their homeland, and noted its relevance. The results of the forum were highly appreciated by the specialized structures of the United Nations, which recognized the conference as a successful humanitarian event.

We welcome the consistent and constructive position of the International Committee of the Red Cross, one of the few humanitarian organizations that did not succumb to pressure and took full participation in the work of the forum. The role of this organization in solving humanitarian problems throughout the Syrian Arab Republic can hardly be overestimated.

We note the increasingly active interaction of representatives of the International Committee of Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent with the Syrian authorities and the Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides and Refugee Migration Monitoring in addressing humanitarian problems in the territory controlled by the Syrian government.

The forum presented the results in all areas of activity in solving the problems of refugee return, which is a national priority for the Syrian government. The conference participants discussed the main reasons preventing the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, and outlined further joint steps to create the necessary conditions for the return of displaced persons, including providing them with humanitarian assistance and overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.

We welcome the call of the United Nations to the authorities of the states on whose territory the refugees are located to establish cooperation with the Syrian leadership for their free and safe return in accordance with international norms and the active participation of the relevant structures of the World Organization in this work.

Representatives of the Russian federal executive authorities have concluded agreements with Syrian partners on key areas of bilateral cooperation. Memorandums of Understanding were signed in the field of education, health care, as well as the development of housing construction, which is especially important in conditions of a shortage of housing destroyed as a result of hostilities. The necessity of developing cooperation in the field of communications, information technology, science, economics, trade, pharmaceutical production and medical equipment is indicated.

I want to emphasize that despite the opposition from the Western countries, all the set goals of the conference have been achieved. The international community has received objective information about the real situation with the Syrian refugees, and a clear signal has been sent to the Syrians living abroad that they are expected at home.

The conference became a logical continuation of the well-coordinated and coordinated work of the Joint Coordination Committee of Russia and Syria, which ensure the implementation of the entire range of measures for the return of refugees and the restoration of peaceful life in the country. As a result of the concerted efforts of the Russian and Syrian sides, to date, more than two million one hundred ninety two thousand Syrian citizens have already returned to their homes, of which more than one million three hundred thirty five thousand internally displaced persons and more eight hundred and fifty seven thousand  refugees from abroad.

At the same time, the positive dynamics of restoration of infrastructure, social facilities and destroyed agriculture is supported. The conference participants were able to see for themselves the creation of decent living conditions for the Syrians returning to their homes. The events organized by the Syrian government within the framework of the conference, including a visit to the Khirjila refugee temporary accommodation center, conversations with its residents, an examination of a medical center, a school, eating places, distribution of humanitarian aid, showed the groundlessness of accusations against the Syrian leadership that the work of returning refugees is allegedly inconsistent with United Nations principles. The safe, voluntary and dignified return of the Syrians is fully ensured.

We are confident that the implementation of the adopted decisions will contribute to giving a new impetus to the process of internal Syrian political settlement and will make it possible to take another step towards the post-conflict reconstruction of the republic.

The forum was the first element in coordinating international efforts to effectively solve the problem of the return of Syrian citizens from abroad. In this regard, we fully support the initiative of the Lebanese side to hold such a conference on the territory of Lebanon and are ready to assist in its organization.

Also, for the early return of Syrian citizens from the neighboring countries of Syria, primarily from Turkey and Jordan, new initiatives and the search for joint solutions to the most difficult issues are needed. I am sure that the development of interaction in these areas, first of all, will be in the interests of ordinary citizens and will make it possible to shift the return of refugees from these countries.

Dear comrades, thank you for your joint work. Despite all the objective difficulties, we saw that our initiative has many allies who are not indifferent to the fate of the Syrian people. Now it is very important not to be satisfied with what has already been achieved, and the further joint steps developed must be translated into a practical plane.

I ask the representatives of the Russian federal executive authorities, who, within the framework of the conference, held a series of working meetings and consultations with the Syrian partners to expand cooperation, as well as negotiations on the restoration of socially significant sites and cultural heritage sites of the country, to step up the work on signing the relevant agreements between the governments of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic.

And according to the existing intergovernmental agreements and memorandums, follow the terms and obligations that are determined by the Roadmaps for their implementation.

I would like to appeal to the representative of the respected United Nations with an appeal to use his potential to solve humanitarian problems throughout Syria. You all saw with your own eyes how much the Syrian government has done to return its citizens to their homeland and what problems still remain in Syria.

We call on the entire world community to intensify the process of returning Syrian citizens to their homeland, lifting illegal and anti-human sanctions against the Syrian people and effectively assisting in the reconstruction of the Syrian Arab Republic.

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