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Press Conference by Security Council President on December Work Programme

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

2 December 2011

The Security Council work programme for December would contain 18 open meetings — including 2 debates, 11 briefings and 5 meetings to adopt draft resolutions — as well as 20 closed consultations, Council President Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation) said at Headquarters today.

At a press conference where he briefed on his country’s December presidency, he said the Council would adopt about 10 draft resolutions in addition to issuing a number of presidential statements, expressing hope that the Council would have concluded its work by 22 December.

He said that during its 7 December debate, the Council would discuss the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. On 21 December, Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, would deliver his farewell briefing on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and the Secretary-General himself would attend a 13 December briefing on Somalia.

In a “creative” format on 5 December, he said, Council members would hear from the President of Eritrea and other representatives of other Member States in the region who might wish to speak. In the afternoon, the Council might vote on a sanctions resolution regarding Eritrea, and Council members who chose to do so would be able to speak. Mr. Churkin said that, although there was some confusion as to the presence of Eritrea’s President, he had not heard that he would not attend, and the necessary visas had been finalized.

Pleas see for the full programme of work.

Answering questions, he said the subject of Syria had not come up during bilateral discussions on the programme of work.

Speaking in his national capacity, he said the Russian Federation’s consistent position was that the role of the international community in resolving internal conflicts was to promote dialogue with the parties concerned, and it had been talking with the Syrian Government as well as the opposition. He said the League of Arab States had had a unique opportunity to mediate, and its monitoring plan was very important, although Syria’s proposed amendments could have been considered. The Russian Federation considered the Arab League’s sanctions counter-productive and damaging to its mediating role, he said, adding that they would have an impact not only on Syria, but also on other countries in the region.

He said his country had supported a resolution on Yemen, where more blood had been shed than in Syria, because the Council had rallied around the Russian position on dialogue. The Russian Federation and China had introduced a text along the same lines as the one on Syria, but it had gone nowhere, he said, adding that he did not understand why, if the Yemen text could be adopted, the same could not be done in Syria’s case. After all, “the Council is not there to smell blood but to prevent bloodshed,” he said.

Asked about concerns that Russian arms delivered to Syria could fall into opposition hands, he said arrangements had been made with Syria to ensure that weapons would not be used by those not supposed to use them. The Russian Federation was a very responsible supplier, he said.

Resuming his Council President role, he said in answer to another question that he had not heard anything about Iran. Reverting again to his national capacity, he said the national sanctions track in the Council had been exhausted. The Russian position had always been that the “dual-track approach” should be focused exclusively on Iran’s nuclear programme.

He went on to state that his delegation had offered creative suggestions for the resumption of negotiations between Iran and the “Group of 6”, and he was upset that possible negotiations had been derailed by the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was more of a public relations exercise than anything else. He said he was now worried because the scenario of confrontation being played out included threats of violence.

In response to a question about Libya, he said concerns had been raised about proper legal procedures, adding that what had happened to Muammar Qadhafi should not have happen, and the issue of migrant workers was also of concern.

Asked about lessons learned, he said he had hoped that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would submit a report on what had been done both within and outside its mandate. As for the no-fly zone, it was a dangerous thing that had made the Council’s work difficult, he said, noting that words now had different meanings to different people. In the old days, a no-fly zone meant that nobody should fly. Nowadays, it meant to some that one could bomb indiscriminately. There was a need for a clear understanding in the Council of what was meant in internal communications.

He went on to state that, although a no-fly zone had made sense, given the Qadhafi regime’s bombardment of civilian targets, it would make no sense in Syria unless some were preparing attacks and bombardments. “It is not a perfect day for diplomacy, not a perfect time to work in the Council,” he said.

Asked whether a general strategy for the whole of Sudan and South Sudan would not be better than separate missions, he said that some had proposed a general debate on that subject, but that would be a wrong approach. The issues were different from area to area, and each had a different history, he said, adding that the Council should not create proposals for the whole of Sudan.

Responding to a question about the Palestinian application for United Nations membership, he said the expectation was that the matter would be acrimonious, but the contrary was true. Things had evolved in a very harmonious way, he said, estimating that the Council was prepared to vote on the matter as soon as the Palestinian side indicated their preferred date, and as soon as a draft resolution, to be prepared by Lebanon, was submitted. Neither had happened yet, he noted.

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For information media • not an official record

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