While the conflict in Syria continues to demand unacceptable human sacrifice, we need to start thinking about what lies ahead. It is to be hoped that sooner rather than later, the fighting will end with the departure of the Assad regime.
We need to work proactively to prevent a power vacuum after the open conflict comes to an end. The different parties involved will have to agree on an interim government to guarantee public order and the functioning of governmental services until free elections are organized.
The agreement reached in Doha a few days ago is a welcome step to the right direction.
The challenge facing the new Syrian leaders will be finding a balance between transitional justice and reconciliation. There will be legitimate demands for a thorough investigation of the conflict, including the fate of the missing persons. Furthermore, there will be demands for bringing the perpetrators of atrocities and war crimes to justice – these demands have to be applied equally to everyone responsible, on all sides.
The immediate task atthe end of the long-lasting fighting is to start building a new and united Syria and to seek reconciliation between the religious and ethnic entities. A solution has to be found concerning those who have been in service of the outgoing regime and for those who fought it to create a more democratic Syria.
After such a long internal conflict, the reconstruction will be an immense and expensive process for the Syrians and for the international community, which stands ready to help if asked to do so. One matter is the physical reconstruction – to rebuild the damaged infrastructure.
A far more delicate and demanding issue is the non-material reconstruction, that is, the creation of a new Syrian society. It means embarking on a new political system and society, based on individual freedoms, respect of human rights, diversity of ethnic groups and religions.
The approximately 400 000 refugees have to be enabled to return to their homes and normal lives as soon as possible.
We need to pay high attention to rules and principles and to help guarantee mutual respect and tolerance between the state and its citizens, and among the citizens themselves.
The international community will need to try to protect the unity and integrity of the country with close ties to all its neigbours in the Levant region and help it to promptly reassume its position in the groups and bodies of cooperation that is has traditionally belonged to.
The Syrians themselves sit on the driver’s seat throughout the process – there is no question about that.
The role for the international community is and should remain supportive and agree about details with the new Syrian leadership. The UN certainly plays a pivotal role here, including the possible new robust and well- resourced UN peace-keeping operation. Also the regional organisations have an important role to play.
For the EU Syria has traditionally been a close partner and since 1995 dialogue has been conducted especially in the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation until the suspension of cooperation due to Syria’s internal situation in late 2011. This cooperation should be resumed as soon as the situation permits.
The international community must closely coordinate its actions and also think about ways to pool resources regionally and internationally. There is a clear need for enhanced cooperation between the EU and the League of Arab States.
And let us remember, that we need to implement the UNSC 1325 also in our efforts to end and solve the Syrian conflict, for there will be no lasting, stable and just peace in Syria without the full involvement of the Syrian women.