- The second meeting of the Working Group on Economic Recovery and Development of the Friends of the Syrian People ("the Working Group"), was held in Berlin on 4 September 2012 under the co-chairmanship of the UAE and Germany, with the participation of 64 countries and 7 international organisations, including the League of Arab States, the European Union, the Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf States and the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation.
- The Working Group welcomed the participation of members of the Syrian opposition, including designated representatives of the Syrian National Council and the Syrian Business Forum, members of the Syrian civil society and business community, as well as Syrian economic experts.
- The meeting took place while the Syrian regime is waging an all-out war against its own population in order to salvage its grip on power. At the same time, the regime is eroding from within. This meeting of the Working Group was convened by its Co-Chairs in light of the dynamic developments in order to intensify international coordination and planning for post-conflict Syria.
- Recalling the conclusions of the Friends Group’s meetings in Tunis, Istanbul and Paris, participants reiterated their support to the just cause of the Syrian people, who are struggling for the freedom to take their own decisions within a democratic and sovereign framework. The Friends of the Syrian People will stand by them until their rightful and legitimate aspirations are fulfilled. Participants underlined that the future of Syria must be determined by the Syrian people. In this context, they reiterated their firm and strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, national
unity and territorial integrity of Syria.
- Participants confirmed the mandate of the Working Group as endorsed by the Second Conference of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People in Istanbul on 1 April and stressed that its efforts must focus on preparing the economic transition that will allow a future democratic government to successfully respond to the economic, financial, social and governance challenges of post-conflict Syria. Participants agreed to intensify and speed up their efforts within the Working Group in order to react adequately to the dynamic developments in Syria.
- Participants welcomed the successful planning process of the sub-working group on immediate impact measures, led by the United Kingdom. They commended the lead and other participants of this group for their valuable contributions. Participants agreed that there is an urgent need for the Working Group to engage with and support civil society and coordination councils inside Syria, in order to better assess and respond to the most immediate needs for basic services to the Syrian population.
- Participants agreed that the Working Group should coordinate closely with other efforts of the International Community aimed at reaching out to local activists within Syria, including, but not limited to, the Office for Syrian Opposition Support in Istanbul.
- Participants welcomed the European Union’s readiness to use their significant expertise in the field of donor coordination and mobilisation as a lead for Basket 2 of the Working Group. They stressed the crucial importance of donor coordination and mobilisation as one core task to be urgently put at the centre of the Working Group’s activities. They also noted the importance of closely cooperating and coordinating these efforts with the Gulf Cooperation Council.
- In this context, Participants identified the urgent need for, and expressed their strong support for establishing an overarching donor coordination arrangement that would mobilise and coordinate resources for Syria via multiple funding channels – bilateral, multilateral, and regional.
- Participants also welcomed the work of the sub-working group on economic reforms (basket 3), led by Germany. They noted with satisfaction the results of a workshop that assessed possible elements for future economic reform efforts, based on lessons learnt from past economic reforms in Syria as well as experiences in other transition economies.
- Participants reiterated their commitment to support the active involvement of the private sector in the recovery of the post-conflict Syria. They welcomed the work of the sub-working group on private sector involvement (basket 4) led by the United Arab Emirates, and reviewed the results of a workshop of Syrian business leaders that was convened in Abu Dhabi on 3 September. The UAE will host before the end of 2012 an international investors conference to bring together business people from Syria and around the world, in order to facilitate sector specific investment projects in post-conflict Syria.
- In this context, the Working Group welcomed current efforts by the Syrian business community to organize themselves in support of the opposition, such as the Syrian Business Forum. 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 a post-conflict Syria.
- The pro-active engagement of the Syrian opposition and their cooperation with the Working Group are crucial for the success of this endeavour. Participants underlined the need to continue work toward a unified position among opposition actors as a matter of urgency. They welcomed the recent progress achieved through the Cairo documents (Syrian National Compact and Transitional Period Platform).
- Participants also commended the project “The Day After: Supporting a Democratic Transitionin Syria” for its valuable contribution as a tool for transition planning.
- Participants commended the Co-Chairs for establishing the Secretariat of the Working Group and noted with satisfaction that the Secretariat has already proven its value, setting the pace and coordinating and facilitating the work in all four baskets of the Working Group. They agreed that, as the scope of the Secretariat expands, its personnel and financial resources will need to be adjusted. In this context, they expressed their gratitude to those members of the Working Group who are lending their valuable support to the Secretariat.
- The Working Group recognised the crucial role that the UN, other international organisations, and the International Financial Institutions will have in the economic rebuilding of Syria and expressed the Working Group’s desire to work closely with them, and other countries, building inter alia on the experiences of the Deauville Partnership, in planning for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future for the Syrian people.
- Participants tasked the Co-Chairs to report to the next meeting of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People in Morocco.
Document available at auswaertiges-amt.de