Nuncio to Syria: people worried for future

2012-08-23 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) People in Syria are "stunned and deeply saddened and worried for the future," said Archbishop Mario Zenari, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria. In an interview with Vatican Radio, the nuncio said Monday’s withdrawal of U.N. forces was a sad blow. Three or four months ago, he noted, people were quite hopeful the mission would enjoy success, but their departure has plunged the country back into reality.

“The international community must not give up, it must keep trying," he said. U.N. military observers left Syria on Monday, August 20 after it was clear the cease-fire they were meant to monitor did not exist. The same day, U.S. President Barack Obama warned there would be "enormous consequences" for Syria, if it began moving, or using its stockpile of chemical weapons.

Archbishop Zenari declined to comment on Obama's remarks, but said, "At this moment we must require all sides in the conflict to rigorously respect international humanitarian law which, as we've seen, has gone to pieces because of the actions of both sides."

While the 17-month-old conflict began as part of the pro-democracy Arab Spring movement, Archbishop Zenari said, "Unfortunately, now there's the impression and the general fear that things have gotten out of hand.” While the international community can and must help, he said, Syrians are the ones who must ultimately decide to lay down their weapons and start negotiating. "Finding a path to peace is a very difficult thing that will entail sacrifices; it's painful, but it's something that no one can do for the Syrians. We really need to encourage all ethnic and religious groups to find the path to peace together," he said.