Opening statement - Opening statement by Dr. Mazen Kseibi
Ladies and gentlemen,
Assalamu Alaikum w rahmatullahi w barakato
The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity, founded in 2018, is a grassroots popular movement that took upon itself to carry the voice of the displaced Syrians and promised them to include their voice in any political solution for Syria. Our main goal is the safe, dignified and voluntary return of the Syrians, each to his/her home, to a safe Syria with all the security, human, legal, political and social rights.
We gather today at an important moment in the history of the Syrian crisis, amid the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian, living and societal situation of Syrians on their land and in the countries of asylum, amid a disappointing political impasse that has generated despair and frustration among Syrians, and at an international crossroads after Russia invaded Ukraine and committed part of the crimes it committed against the Syrians. Russia, which the Syrians have been pressured for years by the international community to accept as a mediator and guarantor of a political solution.
The Syrian dilemma has become more complex than ever, and more dangerous for the international community with the increase in new waves of refugees towards neighboring countries and Europe (according to Frontex, the number of asylum seekers who have succeeded in crossing the European borders reached more than 40,000 Syrians until last July), and has turned into a "drug state" and a source of regional and international instability.
We would like to emphasize that the only way out in Syria is still a comprehensive and sustainable political solution with explicit and direct international guarantees and support, and that the focus of this solution is the issue of all displaced persons and detainees, wherever they are, and that there is no legitimacy, possibility of achieving or sustainability of a political solution that neglects the largest segment of Syrian society across regions and backgrounds. A solution that does not take into account the reasons that led Syria and the Syrian people to what they have reached:
It is the segment of the displaced and the detainees
Many years have passed, during which we witnessed proposals for partial and improvised theoretical solutions in where the Syrians were not consulted, and the reality today confirms the complete failure of all these attempts. The regime or the countries of asylum are going from bad to worse, and the new repercussions of this situation have begun to reach the region and Europe.
With the escalation of populist and political rhetoric against Syrian refugees in countries of asylum, demanding their expulsion and return to Syria before conditions change in Syria and before ensuring a safe, dignified and voluntary return, we affirm here that the majority of displaced Syrians want to return to their original homes and that we are working to achieve this, but within the right conditions and as part of a comprehensive and sustainable solution.
We confirm here that millions of Syrians who are located a few miles away from the regime-controlled areas still refuse to return despite the harsh living conditions they endure. Our studies have shown that 74% of the Syrian refugees confirmed their unwillingness to return in light of the current conditions in Syria, and 83% of them confirmed their willingness to return if the appropriate safe environment was secured for them.
Our work over the past four years has unequivocally shown us that the only solution to the Syrian issue lies in securing a safe environment for all Syrians that guarantees a safe, voluntary and dignified return that is the cornerstone of any political solution.
During the past three years, the Association made intensive efforts to communicate with segments representing all categories of Syrians everywhere and listened to their demands and aspirations to form an in-depth understanding of their reality and fears. We then transferred these outputs to academics, legal experts, Syrian and international experts to translate these visions into a roadmap that represents the basis and conditions necessary to build this safe environment in all constitutional, legal, social, political, human rights and even logistical aspects. We also discussed with a group of international experts who had similar experiences in other countries, especially Bosnia and the Dayton Agreement, the practical steps to be implemented and in stages in order to succeed in this building process and enable the Syrians to take the decision of voluntary and dignified return to a safe environment that paves the way for rebuilding a new Syria, a Syria for all Syrians, a Syria of freedoms, rights and dignity.
This is what we came for today: to present to you a roadmap for a safe environment in Syria that carries the voice and vision of displaced Syrians, and we are confident that it will help break the state of political impediment and put the political process on the right track to reach a sustainable solution that guarantees all Syrians a better future.
We thank everyone here for their generous presence and everyone watching us online. We also extend our gratitude to everyone who supported and helped in organizing this conference, and especially the European Center for Peace.
Thank you for your time.