UNITED NATIONS - Even though the European members in the Security Council softened the language of their proposed draft resolution strongly condemning Damascus for the seven-month bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, Russia is still dissatisfied.
According to the revised draft resolution co-sponsored by UK, France, Germany and Portugal, and examined by the Council members late Thursday, the Council would "express its determination" to review Syria's implementation of this resolution within 30 days of its adoption and in the event that Syria has not complied with the resolution, "to consider the adoption" of targeted measures, including sanctions."
Wednesday's European draft resolution gave Damascus only 15 days to implement the resolution, and in case it didn't, the Council would immediately "adopt" targeted measures, including sanctions.
On his way to the Council informal meeting Thursday, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters in answer to questions "I'm not optimistic." Asked if the co-sponsors took into consideration Russia's concerns expressed in a rival draft resolution circulated the day before, Churkin said "no, they didn't." He later explained that Russia would not agree to any mention of sanctions on Syria in the draft resolution and claimed that other Council members support his position.
German Ambassador Peter Wittig agreed that "there are still divergences. We want to keep the essential message in the resolution: that is if repression and violence doesn't stop there will be further measures," he told reporters.
The co-sponsors are expected to further soften the draft resolution Thursday evening and present it to the Council today Friday for discussion.
Diplomats said the vote will most likely be 14 to one - Lebanon - and will not take place until Lebanon leaves the Council's presidency later this month. The vote may take place on Monday under Nigeria's presidency. In the European draft resolution circulated Thursday, some sentences that appeared in an earlier version have been deleted, others were added.
For instance, the mention in an earlier version of the High Commissioner of Human Rights' "recommendation that the Security Council consider referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC)" has been deleted. The Council would still call for an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation, but now "extremism" is added.
The Council would still call upon all states to exercise vigilance and restraint over the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of arms and related material of all types, but "to Syria," compared to Wednesday's draft which said to "the Syrian authorities."
The Council would still "strongly condemn the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, also of children." It is the only paragraph that has not been amended.
According to UN estimates, some 2,700 civilians died during the seven-month crackdown, and thousands were jailed or simply unaccounted for. (KUNA)