7 February 2014
Ahead of the second round of Geneva II talks, and following the agreement on the removal of the country’s chemical weapons, our priority in Syria must now be to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis. According to available estimates, more than 130,000 people have been killed since March 2011. Millions more have been displaced as refugees. Securing a ceasefire would provide immediate relief for citizens caught in the fighting and enable humanitarian aid to reach those in need.
In this context, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, provides a unique opportunity to revive the Ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Truce - a tradition adopted by the UN General Assembly resolution 68/9 and signed by 121 countries. In this spirit, I welcome the statement made by the Secretary General of the United Nations to observe the Olympic Truce during the upcoming games. As President of the Socialist International and someone who has fought to revive the Olympic Truce in modern times, I have called for an absolute ceasefire in Syria, to be respected by all factions, during the Olympic Games in Sochi. This proposal was adopted and promoted by the leadership of Just Russia Party - a member party of the Socialist International - and subsequently passed in the Russian Duma. I welcome the strong statement made by the Russian Foreign Ministry in support of the initiative.
This gives reason for optimism that a truce is possible and creates the necessary momentum for achieving this goal during the Sochi games. The international community - and all parties involved in this conflict - must seize this historic opportunity by supporting this call for truce and prioritizing, above all, the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.
George A. Papandreou