U.S. and EU agree to boycott Russian–Syria refugee conference

WASHINGTON D.C. / BRUSSELS — The U.S. has stepped up its diplomatic efforts to halt the Syrian Refugee Conference to be held in Daramsuq (Damascus) and to ensure that European and Arab countries and U.N. institutions boycott it.

On 20 October, the Syrian Foreign Ministry distributed a copy of the Russian call for an international conference on Syrian refugees to be held on 11 and 12 November to diplomatic missions and U.N. bodies abroad.

The U.S., however, was quick to denounce the Russian–Syrian invitation, saying that Russia, through conference, is attempting to pressure Europe into recognizing the Syrian regime’s legitimacy and providing it funding in exchange for the return of refugees.

A meeting of EU countries was held in coordination with the U.S. in which the participants took a collective decision to boycott the conference due to the lack of conditions for the return of refugees. Western officials said that unless the nature and behavior of the Syrian Government changed, the refugees would not return. Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus were responsible for the crisis, agreed the meetings participants, and could not be responsible for the solution to the Syrian crisis. It was stressed that the only way to achieve conditions appropriate for the return of refugees is to implement a real political solution, implement U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 2254, and change the fundamental behavior of the Syrian Government towards its people.

The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt has reached 5.6 million, including some 3.5 million in Turkey alone, which was not been invited to the conference.