Poland’s Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski has claimed at least partial credit for the potential deal that would see Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal handed over to the international community, likely averting a US-led military strike. “If my suggestions have helped someone change their mind, or prompted reflection, then we have cause for some small satisfaction,” Mr Sikorski told journalists.
|Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski|
Courtesy of The European Parliament
Last week, the German daily Die Welt stated that Mr Sikorski played a pivotal role in the possible diplomatic resolution of the Syrian chemical weapons crisis. The newspaper stated that Mr Sikorski spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry on August 29, when he presented a plan to give Syria a 30-day ultimatum to hand over its chemical weapons to international inspectors, and to involve Russia in the initiative.
Meanwhile, in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, Mr Sikorski secured the support for the plan from Elmar Brok, head of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, and then presented it personally to Mr Kerry, wrote Die Welt.
Mr Brok confirmed to the German daily that he met with both Mr Sikorski and Mr Kerry on the Syria issue. The New York Times also reported that Mr Sikorski had spoken with the US Secretary of State on the issue.
Mr Sikorski had indeed earlier raised the prospect of Russian involvement in dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. At the end of August, a post on his Twitter feed said, “Russia can possibly prevent war by declaring that it will secure Syria’s chemical arsenal, which the USSR created.”
However, in the same article where The New York Times mentioned Mr Sikorski, it also wrote that “while the [Syria] proposal appeared to come out of the blue when Russia made it public after a seemingly offhand comment by Secretary of State John Kerry, it had actually grown out of conversations between [US President Barack] Obama and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin going back more than a year.”
The US daily said the two leaders returned to the idea at the recent G20 summit in St Petersburg, where a presentation by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, was “more detailed” than the Americans had expected.
Mr Sikorski, in an interview with the Financial Times last week, said US senator Richard Lugar had originally floated the idea of US-Russian cooperation in securing the handover of Syria’s chemical weapons during a trip to Moscow in 2012.
“But it is true that I spoke it out maybe before others were ready to do so,” Mr Sikorski said.
Meanwhile, Mr Obama has announced that he will postpone a vote in the US congress on American military action against the Syrian government, which he accuses of launching chemical weapons into a Damascus suburb controlled by rebels.
In an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV station last week, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad confirmed that his country would agree to place its chemical weapons under international control. He said his decision was a result of a Russian proposal and had “nothing” to do with US threats of an attack on his country.