Syria and Golan Heights Discussed At UN Meeting

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who visited Austria to attend the Paris Pact Ministerial Conference, an event to mark the 15th anniversary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), met today February 16 2012 with Federal President Heinz Fischer and Federal Minister Michael Spindelegger at the Hofburg Palace after the opening session of the conference.

SG Ban Ki-Moon mentioned the Golan Heights, the current humanitarian issues in Syria and the Austrian peacekeeping troops (UNDOF). These were main topic at the press conference held today February 16 2012 by the Austrian President Heinz Fischer and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Federal President Heinz Fischer strongly condemned the deplorable murders and violence in Syria. He said “too many people have been killed, too many suffer oppression. This situation is unacceptable. (Austrian) Defense Minister Norbert Darabos is concerned about the Austrian UN soldiers on the Golan Heights because of the popular uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria”.

President Fischer said that Secretary General Ki-moon had described the situation in the Golan Heights as “stable” SG Ki-moon himself said that he himself reads the reports prepared by the commander of the UN mission in the Golan Heights (UNDOF) every day, saying that all necessary measures for the safety of the UNDOF soldiers have taken.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the Syrian regime is “almost certainly” committing crimes against humanity and demanded from President Assad “to stop using indiscriminate force against civilians” who are caught up in the middle of fighting between government troops and President Bashar Assad’s opponents. He stated that “thousands of Syrians have died, 25,000 people have fled and an estimated 70,000 have been displaced within the country” and that the numbers were rising by the day.

SG Ki-moon said that the lack of agreement in the Security Council does not give the (Syrian) government license to “continue its assault on its own people. The longer we debate the more people will die”, adding that the most important thing at this time is that the Syrian authorities must stop killing their own people.

Ki-moon said that he has discussed with President Fisher how to send humanitarian aid to Syria. “It is vital to establish humanitarian access as soon as possible to Syria” said Ki-moon. He added that he wants to meet with the Mr. Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

SG Ki-moon met Minister Lavrov later. According to a UNIS press release, Ki-moon and Lavrov exchanged views on the situation in Syria. The Secretary-General emphasized “the need for an urgent end to the violence and bloodshed”. He said that it was vital to establish humanitarian access as soon as possible while the search for a political solution to the crisis continues. The Secretary-General said that the United Nations was reviewing all options for any eventual decision by member states in addressing these issues in Syria.

The Secretary-General also encouraged Russia’s support for the Rio+20 sustainable development process.

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