Austrian FM says return of refugees, stabilization in Syria must not be tied to political process

Syrian internally displaced people walk in the Atme camp, along the Turkish border in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, on March 19, 2013. The conflict in Syria between rebel forces and pro-government troops has killed at least 70,000 people, and forced more than one million Syrians to seek refuge abroad. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Austria’s foreign minister has said that the return of refugees, as well as stabilization and reconstruction in Syria must not be rigidly tied to a political process, AP reports. Karin Kneissl said on Monday during a visit to Lebanon that the world should seize “a new dynamic” developing in Syria, which has been mired in civil war for more than seven years.

Kneissl says no Syrian refugee will be forced to return, but that Austria will help those willing to return like it did with Bosnian refugees after the end of the conflict there. Lebanon hosts more than a million Syrian migrants.

The country’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Beirut is working to ensure their “fast, secure, honorable and sustainable” return. “Security now prevails” in most of Syria, making it possible for refugees to return, he added.


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