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Ambassador calls for passive approach to Syria

Photo by: Ryan Lumpkin

The world needs to have a hands-off international approach when it comes to the violent revolution in Syria, according to Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, during a speech at the SiCB) ChCB)ou-Kang Center in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies last Friday.

“We believe that United Nations Security Council, by charter, is not supposed to get involved in regime change,” said Churkin.

About 100 students and faculty attended the event, where Churkin addressed the current instability in Syria between the government and opposition forces

The situation in Syria has escalated in violence since its beginnings in January 2011. Peaceful protests soon became demonstrations and government forces have now resorted to gunning down civilians. The upheaval is centered on the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The UN recently sent a special envoy, former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan, to help mediate relations between the government and the protesters. The peace plan requires a cease-fire in Syria to take place.

“In case of a crisis, we believe that the role of the international community should be to support various groups in the country involved in the crisis to find a peaceful solution,” said Churkin.

Ultimately, Churkin said he believes the world needs  to not take any direct action.

The UN recently approved the mandate of placing 300 observers in Syria to monitor the conflict over the next three months. UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon said the the UN will try to deploy these monitors as fast as possible, according to The Guardian. Churkin said he agreed with the action.

“As long as there is no serious monitoring of the situation, [violations] will keep happening,” said Churkin. “I don’t believe the armed groups are going to simply heed Kofi Annan or the Security council, unless there are a fair number of monitors who will be able to spot their activity in contravention of cease-fire relations.”

Churkin also addressed the relationship between Russia and North Korea and how they plan to manage the situation in light of North Korea’s recent long-range missile failure on April 13.

The Security Council has imposed sanctions on ballistic missile testing and nuclear tests in North Korea, but North Korea is predicted to test their nuclear capabilities relatively soon, according to an article from Reuters.

“It is my prediction that it’s going to be a rather difficult stretch,” said Churkin. “It will take the new leader [Kim Jong-un] some time to find out for himself what is good and what is not good for his country. We hope that his finding will be that it’s good to create proper conditions for dialogue and not to breach Security Council resolutions.”

Ambassador Churkin also spoke on relations between Russia and the United States, as well as with the European Union. Russia is not a member of the EU.

“Entering the European Union is not as easy as it should be in terms of our overall relationship, our, in many ways, common history and our common future,” said Churkin. “Russians mostly think about themselves as Europeans, and for us, relations with the European Union are extremely important.”

Churkin also said visas have complicated inter-European interaction, restricting relationships with other countries

“One of the issues of discussion which we have now with the European Union is a visa-free regime which has proven to be…more difficult than we expected,” said Churkin. “For instance, we moved backward from a situation of no visa travel [for] a number of east European countries to the impositions of visas because of the entry to the European Union. So, this is a matter of concern to us, and I believe [for] them.”

Churkin also said Russia’s relationship with the US is strong.

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About Author: Gigi Peccolo

Gigi Peccolo is a sophomore currently majoring in Journalism and minoring in Spanish. Before DU, she went to Douglas County High School in Castle Rock, Colorado, where she served as co-editor of her high school paper during her senior year. She also participated in and received her diploma from the International Baccalaureate Program.

Gigi has been part of the Clarion since the beginning of her freshman year and, in addition to being assistant news editor, she also loves to write about entertainment. Since the field of journalism is changing, she isn’t exactly sure what she wants to do for her career but knows it will involve a lot of writing. In her free time, which comes along very rarely, Gigi likes to read and draw. She’s looking forward to working with the Clarion this year and hopes to continue writing for it during the rest of her college career.

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