Check Against Delivery

 

Dear Excellences,  

Dear friends.

After two days of in-depth and productive discussion our conference has come to an end.

Thank you all very much for your valuable contributions. And for the fruitful exchange of views.  Now is time to transform words into action. 

Our goal remains a political solution. As soon as possible. A swift transition to a peaceful, democratic and stable Syria. 

This conference was marked by the horrific attack in Idlib.  Another criminal chemical attack on innocent civilians. Killing many of them and leaving a lot more wounded. Including many children.

At yesterday's session, we saw the shocking pictures of the attack. It is another shameful war crime. In full disregard of humanity. Those responsible for it must be held accountable.

In the face of atrocities like this one, the international community has a moral duty to act. Continuing its support to the people of Syria. For as long as it's needed. The needs are massive.

Our conference is sending a powerful message: we are not letting down the people of Syria.

Delegations present here in Brussels have made a collective pledge of 6 billion dollars for this year alone.

These committments are significant. They demonstrate the determination of the international community to support the people of Syria. To show concrete solidarity. To deliver. Standing united we can make a difference.

Now we have to move beyond declarations. We have to act. To implement these pledges. As soon as possible.  

The European Union, as one of the hosts of this conference, as the leading donor, is showing the way.

Let me, also, thank all participants for their generosity. For recommitting or making new pledges during our conference.

But let us be clear: humanitarian aid is not a solution. What is urgently needed is a political solution. Negotiated between the Syrian parties. On the basis of UN Security Council resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communique.

The international community must remain committed to this objective. Re-affirming the full support for the UN-moderated intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.

Only Syrians can make any peace agreement work. But to achieve peace they need the strong commitment of the international community. And of the regional actors. Your support, our support, is essential to achieve a sustainable peace.

Regional players can play an important role in facilitating a solution to the conflict. The EU was able to reach-out to the regional players. To identify common views. And to channel them into the UN-led talks in Geneva. To support the negotiations between Syrian parties.

But also the Astana meetings. Which have a potentially crucial role. In consolidating and strengthening the nationwide ceasefire. And they should complement the work of the Geneva Task Forces. Including the humanitarian one.

A genuine ceasefire would facilitate a country-wide humanitarian access. That is so badly needed. And which, unfortunately, continues to be systematically obstructed.

But I would leave it to Stephen to go into more detail here.

The Brussels Conference was also about recognising the challenges faced by neighbouring countries: notably Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. And to reassure them of our continued support.

Beyond funding we also reflected on key challenges and gaps. That prevent financial aid to be used effectively. And to make a difference.

We had a chance this afternoon to hear the plans of Jordan and Lebanon for economic development. We heard clearly their commitment to give a new focus on Education. This is crucial.

We agreed to continue to work towards ensuring No Lost Generation of children, in Syria. And in the region. To increase our efforts to reach our goal set in London. Namely, of getting all refugee children and vulnerable host children into quality education. As well as to increase access to learning for 1.75 million children out of school in Syria.

Moreover, we recognized the need for sustained economic development in host countries. Moving gradually away from livelihood support to longer-term investments.

The aim must be to reduce the dependence of refugees. By integrating them into the workforce. In line with the commitments made at the London conference.

We must prioritise support to development objectives of host countries in a more comprehensive way. To have a greater impact on prospects for economic growth.

It is clear that the international community and the hosting countries must better use grant funding. As well as utilize the significant benefits of concessional financing. To take forward necessary reforms. And achieve economic growth for the benefit of all.

I assure you that the EU will remain actively engaged. In supporting the resilience of the Syrian population inside Syria. By supporting education and livelihoods. To provide Syrian youth with the prospect of a better future. To equip them with the skills necessary to rebuild Syria. Once peace is achieved.  The day after will be crucial. For the future of Syria. For the future of the region.

Our goal is political solution. As soon as possible. A swift transition to a peaceful, democratic and stable Syria. 

My biggest wish is that next year there will be no need to hold another major conference on the Syrian Crisis. Instead, I hope that our next meeting will be about how to help rebuild Syria. How to help secure a better future for the people of Syria. How to help secure that next generation of Syrian will live in peace and prosperity.

Let us do everything we have to provide the conditions for peace. This is our moral duty. Our biggest responsibility. For the sake of Syria. For the sake of its people. For the sake of all those countries which have supported Syrians during these dark years.

Thank you for your attention.