The first meeting of the Working Group on Economic Recovery and Development of the Friends of the Syrian People ("the Working Group"), was held in Abu Dhabi on 24 May 2012, with the participation of more than 60 countries and representatives from the League of Arab States, the European Union, the Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf States, as well as the United Nations Development Program.
- The Working Group welcomed the participation of designated representatives of the Syrian National Council and other members of the Syrian opposition, including members of the Syrian civil society and business community, as well as Syrian economic experts.
- Recalling the conclusions of the Friends Group’s meetings in Tunisia and Istanbul, all Participants reiterated their determination to support the just cause of the Syrian people. They underlined that the future of Syria must be determined by the Syrian people and that the Friends Group will stand firmly by them until their rightful and legitimate aspirations are fulfilled. In this context, the Participants re-emphasised the Friends Group’s firm and strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, political unity and territorial integrity of Syria.
- Recognising that the most immediate challenges the Syrian population is facing are the ongoing violence and the humanitarian crisis in Syria, all Participants reiterated their commitment to support Syria economically in the transition period and thereafter in order to ensure that the post-conflict Syria stands on a firm foundation in financial and economic terms.
- The Participants convened in Abu Dhabi for the inaugural meeting of the Working Group. They welcomed the endorsement of the mandate of the Working Group by the Second Conference of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People in Istanbul on 1 April. They confirmed the co-chairmanship of the United Arab Emirates and Germany.
- The Working Group agreed to meet regularly and to organise its work on economic reconstruction and development in accordance with the four key issues identified in paragraph six of its Mandate.
It endorsed the initial work plans on
· Immediate Impact Measures, presented by representatives of the United Kingdom;
· Donor Coordination, presented by representatives of the European Commission;
· Economic Policy and Reforms, presented by representatives of Germany; and
· Business Sector Involvement, presented by representatives of the United Arab Emirates
The Working Group recognised all countries and international organisations for their contributions to the work plans and the commitments made therein.
- The Co-Chairs declared that they have made preparations to set up a secretariat of the Working Group to support the implementation of the work plans and to facilitate the ongoing activities of the Working Group. The activities of the secretariat shall include in particular, but are not limited to, supporting the Co-Chairs in the preparations of meetings of the Working Group; coordinating the implementation of the work plans developed by the Basket leaders; and facilitating the cooperation between all stakeholders in preparing for the post-conflict economic recovery and development of Syria. The secretariat will shortly be established, and will be funded jointly by Germany and the United Arab Emirates for its first year of operation. Mr Gunnar Waelzholz has been designated to head the secretariat in its initial phase. The Participants welcomed this step.
- Members of the Syrian opposition led by the representatives of the Syrian National Council introduced their National Economic Vision for the New Syria. They strongly welcomed the establishment of the Working Group and committed themselves to cooperate closely with it and to jointly prepare for the economic reconstruction and development of post-conflict Syria. All Participants welcomed the work on the National Economic Vision for the New Syria as part of developing a credible alternative to policies and practices of the regime.
- Participants welcomed the designation of one member of the Syrian opposition as a dedicated point of contact for each of the four key issues identified in paragraph six of the Working Group’s mandate, and they emphasised that this should be followed by setting up a permanent organisational structure on the side of the Syrian opposition to cooperate closely with the Working Group and its secretariat.
- The Participants reiterated their strong commitment to increasing the economic pressure on the Syrian regime by fully implementing bilateral and multilateral sanctions. They stressed the importance of the close cooperation of this Working Group with the Working Group on Sanctions. They recognised the necessity of lifting the sanctions as soon as their objectives have been achieved in order to support the economic revival of post-conflict Syria.
- The Working Group called on all other countries and international organisations to contribute to the work of the Working Group and a free and prosperous future of post-conflict Syria.
- The Working Group welcomed current efforts by the Syrian business community to organise in support of the opposition. They called upon all members of the Syrian business community to join this effort and contribute to shaping a viable economic perspective for the Syrian people in post-conflict Syria.
- The co-chairs of the Working Group will report the results of this meeting at the upcoming meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People in Paris, and will in due course set the date of the next gathering of the Economic Recovery and Development Working Group.
Document available at auswaertiges-amt.de