The former President of the Syrian Civil Alliance, "Malak Sweid," began her opening speech of the fourth conference with a moment of silence to commemorate the civilians who were lost while seeking the renewal of the spirit of change and a future for Syria founded on freedom, progress and development.
Then she proceeded:
Less than a year and half the distance since the third conference,which was also held in Beirut, and ended with a wide range of recommendations, goals and plans that constituted our reference in advancing the civil movement to regain its local and international role. The organizations continued to play their roles in different sectors of human and civil work, exploring new paths, networking and engaging with people’s concerns and seeking to express their interests in various fields of thinking and practice.
Our vision maintains its clarity despite the silence and confusion imposed by the changing conflict. While our long goal remains to advance the Coalition from partnership to an effective communicational lobbying system, we have identified – in response to the Syrian situation’s changes – for each conference a key vision as part of this long path:
We saw the first convention as the first step in the journey towards the civil lobby.
During the second, we refused to reinforce lines of conflict in Syrian society and set our mission to break through them.
The third identified the close relationship with people and a multi-dimensional network with partners as the source of our strength.
Today, we define our vision for the Fourth Conference as being held under the slogan: "
On this basis, we have developed and implemented new concepts of partnership at the local level and a higher level of networking between civil groups and networks. We have established additional pillars at the international level. It is possible to say with some confidence that the Syrian civil society will not be a passing step in the political solution, instead, will play the role of maintaining the sensitive balance of the entire Syrian society’s interests.
Dear delegates and guests
Our country today exhibits all the features of the general crisis in international politics. It has started from local affairs then became regional and later international following a trans-borders dangerous escalade that dragged neighboring regions and created a weak entry point attracting problems, settling international conflicts and attracting various radical movements.
The unstable international balance and the emergence of a new Cold War atmosphere found in the Eastern Mediterranean region, its best opportunity to lead the conflict towards an international arena for scoring points. The balance point in international relations – which could have constituted an access to the solution – disappeared in a game of attraction that pushed the country to the brink of a crucial human catastrophe. To overcome it would require more efforts, make more victims, drain human and material resources and resources of future generations. Not to mention the great draining of personnel through migration and the erosion of social capital. Which is why it was labeled the worst disaster since 1945.
Of all the options that were abundant in the early stages but got narrower in recent years, conflicting parties have always chosen the worst scenario; interests of Syrian society and major population issues have never been on the local, regional or international agendas.
Civil society with all its organizations, bodies and initiatives paid the highest tax for this conflict by tackling highly dangerous missions that cost enormously in terms of resources, characterized by unprecedented violence that does not respect any humanitarian rights or humanitarian laws that govern conflicts.
Civil workers have always had the responsibility to mitigate society’s pain inflicted by different conflicts obeying foreign agendas and totally dependent on regional and international conflicts. However, these workers keep on going despite all the sacrifices. We have to admit that conflicts have destroyed most of the work done by the civil movement in compensation for the absence of the state from all regions, under the slogan everything for the battle. This slogan is only used by those incapable of finding solutions for they consider that battles are fueled by people instead of the preservation of their lives.
The anti-war stance remains one of the most important unifiers of Syrian society. The political solution’s option remains the engine of various forces’ activities, including those who are active on the third and second paths despite the lack of hope in the options of the first path negotiators who are preoccupied by in regional relations exceeding national interests.
The establishment of a serious influential nonviolent communal peace force depends on a cognitive civil speech that transcends the lines of conflict introducing an opposite rhetoric to the hate rhetoric that has grown and was nurtures by the conflict’s exclusion and the adoption of many media platforms a provocative speech that portends a prolongation of the war for decades to come at such a high pace without confrontation. This is one of the major tasks to be explored in depth seeking suggestions for its solution.
On this platform difficult questions present come into mind urging us to seek answers. The Syrian civil movement hasn’t given in yet instead, it is observing the military and political failure with great concern, attention and the will to challenge.
The package of questions that we’ll discuss at our fourth conference includes:
Has the Coalitions’ model matured to a level that paves the way to talk about the concept of the lobby?
Is the Syrian society today more inclined than before to deepen inter-Syrian dialogues?
Are old organizational structures capable of meeting the accelerating changes? What if the political solution developed in an atmosphere that doesn’t include civil structure?
Does the international management of the conflict and solution treat the civil society seriously?
How do we promote the people’s interests to be reflected in the negotiation, the constitution and reconstruction?
How do we see Syria in 2025 in the context of any regional or international balances that we can reinforce as goals?
Our vision stems from the fact that a civil intellectual work should be reinforced by the next Tamas plan to contribute to the establishment of communal dialogue on such questions because the outcome of smothering dialogues has been fatal to the social development and created a suitable environment for the survival of political authoritarianism and extremism in all its forms.
Friends and colleagues
Our coalition, which we must recognizes still seeking to deepen its identity and its role and identify its place in the social pyramid, can’t provide adequate answers to the abovementioned questions without deepening broad partnerships with people, inter-relations between its organizations and interacting creatively with elected bodies. As well as expanding the circle of partnerships of civil groups that are engaged in open dialogues in the perspective of carrying the bunch of concerns that we carry. We don’t think there is a contradiction between this commitment to the mentality of inclusion and networking and the idea of our current conference, the lesser the better, because the introduction of a solid, cohesive and efficient civil core is a good example of the adoption of its tools in other experiments. We all witnessed how our speech that wasn’t spread in 2014 and 2015,became today marketable and adoptable by a wider civil range.
Is this a sufficient standard of satisfaction?
Not at all, even if the bunch of targets is almost accomplished, we can’t rest on content because we are aware of the great responsibility placed on the civil society and of the difficulty of paving ways between its components that hold different speeches and are still below the level of maturity that qualifies to be a proactive initiators in providing solutions.
In fact,8years are not enough to wipe out half a century of marginalization and working at a meager capacity imposed by years of dictatorship that still sees Civil Society as ambiguous, unsafe and traitor. This the dictatorship’s failure to reconcile with its society without oppression and subjugation that make society itself incapable of producing safety nets protecting its present and future.
The country is witnessing its spirit, resources and youth drained under expanding ambitions that threaten the idea of the Syrian entity. Today, our country lacks national figures could look at the scene with both eyes and deal with the Syrian society based on unity of aspirations, goals and destiny instead of bargains considering the individuals as war fuel. Postponing accumulated solutions since the independence exacerbated the and prolonged problems rendering the community’s explosion multidimensional.
The concept of a state and society itself have proven fragile against the might of the authoritarian system (security and opposition regiments).However, Civil Society forces are provided a historic opportunity – despite the colossal cost – to take on their role in discussing all the accumulated problems, including, economic marginalization discriminating between the city and the country side, unfair distribution of income and services, fighting corruption and promoting equitable balanced development, fighting all forms of discrimination on ethnic, religious, regional and sexual basis, advocating an equal, democratic and fair state based on citizenship, guaranteeing a free civil space for all members of Syrian society that ensures an increased participation of young people and women in shaping the present and future of the country.
The lesser the better.
Let our minds be more mature, our hearts wider and our vision nobler.
All love for wounded Syria
Thank you all.