BRUSSELS, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The European Union and the United Nations on Tuesday highlighted the role of civil society in bringing peace to war-torn Syria.
The EU and the UN are co-chairing a two-day international conference in Brussels starting from Tuesday, aiming to pump financial aid for Syrians and garner political support for UN-led intra-Syrian talks.
The first day's meeting focuses on dialogues with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Syria and the region, which are expected to provide "concrete operational recommendations" to the ministerial meeting on the second day.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, speaking at a press conference with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura following their meeting with representatives from Syrian civil society, noted that political solution starts from people.
"Syria is not a chessboard, it's not a geopolitical game. Syria belongs to the Syrian people and the Syrian people have to decide themselves about the future of their country," she said.
Hailing that the representatives from Syria civil society "show the courage to listen to each other, to respect each other, to understand and find common ground "on the first day's meeting, Mogherini said she believes "this is a great model for those that should sit around another table, the UN-led table, and find a political solution for the crisis."
"Peace is not just a document that somebody else can sign a piece of paper in a faraway capital, but it's a process that needs to be built in communities by the Syrian people themselves," she said.
Staffan de Mistura echoed Mogherini and stressed the need to" listen to the people, talk to the people."
"They were sitting around the table together today, many of them did not agree with each other in fact. We noticed it. But they were able to sit on the table, that's exactly what we want at the political level which has not yet happened, " he said.
The special envoy urged the Astana guarantors --Russia, Turkey, Iran -- to do more to de-escalate the situation, arguing that they "have a responsibility and also an interest in guaranteeing that the military situation in the ground gets calmer."
"Asking the UN to do a miracle or the EU to do a miracle when big players are not doing their part, it's asking for too much. So we are asking them to do their part," he said.
The Brussels conference on supporting Syria, the second of its kind since 2017, brings together participants from more than 85 countries and organizations at ministerial level, as well as those from more than 200 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), according to the Council of the EU.
In the aftermath of the U.S.-led airstrikes on alleged chemical weapon-related facilities in Syria earlier this month, the conference gets more international attention than the previous one on April 4-5, 2017, during which international donors pledged 5.6 billion euros (6.85 billion U.S. dollars) in aid for 2017 and 3.47 billion euros for 2018-2020.
The EU and its member states are the top donors in Syria and the region, having mobilized over 10.6 billion euros in humanitarian aid and stabilization assistance since 2011, the Council data showed.
The UN-backed intra-Syrian negotiations have been suspended since the ninth round, which was held in Vienna, Austria on Jan. 25-26, ended up with a truce between the warring sides in Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus.
The eighth round of the talks concluded in Geneva on Dec. 14, 2017, making little progress due to a wide rift.
According to UN data, the Syrian crisis over the past six years has caused 330,000 deaths and displaced half of the country's population, with 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian aid. (1 euro = 1.22 U.S. dollars)