Full Text of the Special Envoy's Remarks at the Opening of the Yemeni Political Consultations in Sweden

6 Dec 2018

Full Text of the Special Envoy's Remarks at the Opening of the Yemeni Political Consultations in Sweden

Sweden, 6 December 2018 - 

Thank you very much. Thank you very much indeed. And thank you through Your Excellency and the Foreign Minister of Sweden, Margot Wallstrom, thank you to your government, for your hosting, for your welcome, as you say a very warm welcome in a slightly less warm country, and so thank you for having us here in this remarkable location. I’m very grateful to you for doing this, to want to, and this efforts to make this happen. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

I would like also to extend my gratitude to the delegations. You’re here, it’s not easy, it’s been more than two years since you have sat down together, and we’re very well aware that there are many difficult decisions taken even to be here and of course there’ll be challenges in the days ahead, but we’re very grateful to you for your travel and for your presence.

And I’d also like to thank the Saudi-led coalition, the Sultanate of Oman, and the Government of Kuwait for their support in making this happen, in getting us here. Many many governments played a large part in making this morning take place, and I’m very grateful to them and I know the Secretary-General of the United Nations is equally so.

Today marks, we hope, the resumption of a political process. After two and a half years, without a formal political process, the convening of the two delegations here is an important milestone. It demonstrates to the international community here represented and to whom we speak to each other, and most importantly to the people of Yemen that are ready to come together in the name of a peaceful political solution to the conflict. I have received numerous statements of support for these consultations from your respective leaderships and I’m very grateful to them for that. Moreover, during the past weeks, both parties, both parties have issued calls for reduction of violence, for a de-scalation to use that word, of military operations, which is of course important as a backdrop to the talks that we will be having here to the consultations will be having here. Such a reduction on violence and restraint on the battlefield has a significant impact on the lives of Yemenis, but it’s also a signal to the people of Yemen that we are here with serious intent to pursue a political solution.

Today, I’m also pleased to announce the signing of an agreement on the exchange of prisoners, detainees, the missing, the forcibly detained and individuals placed under house arrest. This is a huge tribute to those here present, and of enormous importance to the many many thousands of families who seek the return to them of those currently lost to them. It will allow thousands of families to be reunited and it is a product of very effective active work from both delegations, and I’m very grateful.

What we will do here, and in the coming weeks, is to work on the implementation of that agreement, to make it happen. But it’s a good sign and I think it’s an important sign. The bar for success here, however, is higher than this. And as the people of Yemen know, much better than me the desperate situation that they face in Yemen on a daily-basis includes the prospect of famine, includes the continuing degradation of the economy health care and education across all aspects of their lives, humanitarian agencies have raised and the minister reminded us, the alarm regarding the terrible conditions for the country’s children. Thousands have died as a direct consequence of the fighting, and many tons of thousands more have died from malnutrition. So the political process, the talks that we will have offers an alternative to the narrative of conflict, and it begins here. And we seek to turn back the path from those problems and terror, and difficulties of life towards peace.

Here in the coming days, we will have a critical opportunity to give momentum to the peace process to move towards a comprehensive agreement based on the three references, the GCC initiative and its implementation, the Outcomes of the National Dialogue, and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, including 2216. In the coming days, you will have the opportunity, people here present, to discuss and make serious progress, I hope, on a framework for negotiations that sets the parameters for the peace agreement and the resumption of the political transition.

Based on my consultations with the parties and many other experienced and knowledgeable Yemenis, I believe that we can also here, in the coming days, find solutions on specific issues that will improve cooperation and reduce suffering. I have referred to the agreement on prisoners, but we will be hoping to talk about economic issues, about the reduction of violence in many different parts of the country Hudaydah and elsewhere. We will be talking about the issue of Sana’a airport and other measures like that, and we will have the opportunity to discuss the issues of humanitarian access and how the humanitarian programs can be more effective.

All of these issues would never be solved without listening to numerous numerous Yemeni voices, so in addition to the members of the delegations, I will personally benefit from the expertise and experience of an advisory group comprising eight leading Yemeni women with a variety of professional and technical backgrounds, and they will advise me on the issues addressed during these consultations. In addition, I have invited several Yemenis with experience in political issues to help advise me too, and I believe they will be a great support. Already they are telling me how to move forward and what to do and what not to do.

The international community, and we will have their representatives here with us in a minute, are fully supportive of the peace process. It’s a remarkable asset for Yemen. The Security Council is united. The international community is focused on us. The presence of the media representatives here is a testament to that. Representatives of the group of nineteen ambassadors with accreditation to Yemen are here, they traveled to Sweden, they will join us shortly, and I will continue to be, as you will, in close contact with them, during the course of these consultations. They repeatedly called for an end to the war, but what we’re calling for is a resolution to the conflict, a resolution to the issues that led to this war.

Finally, as you said minister, let us be in no doubt that Yemen’s future is in the hands of those of us in this room. The country’s institutions are at risk, the fragmentation of the country is an enormous concern, and we must act now before we lose control of the future of Yemen. You have all expressed your commitment to a political solution. The coming days are milestone, it’s an important, it’s a significant event, don’t waiver, let us none of us waiver, in spite of the challenges that we may face. Let us work with good will, good faith and with energy and commitment and conviction, and I’m sure we will deliver a message of peace for the people in Yemen.

Thank you very much. Thank you.