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Situation in Syria (September 16, 2013)

Joint press conference given by Laurent Fabius together with his American and British counterparts – Remarks by Laurent Fabius (16.09.13)

"The important thing now is that this agreement be swiftly implemented in order to eliminate once and for all the chemical threat posed by the Syrian regime on its own people and on its neighbors. We want to see concrete and verifiable action as swiftly as possible, while keeping in mind that all options must remain on the table if the declarations are not acted upon on the ground. That’s why the group known as the P3, i.e. the United States, the United Kingdom and France, wants to obtain a strong resolution from the Security Council in the next few days. A resolution to support the chemical disarmament plan that will have the full backing of the Security Council. A resolution that will of course impose serious consequences if it’s not applied, and lastly a resolution that will clearly reaffirm that those responsible for the crimes must be held accountable."

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Syria - Draft resolution (12.09.13)

Q : The discussions at the UN on France’s draft resolution on Syria have begun. In France’s view, are Chapter 7 and recourse to the International Criminal Court preconditions?

A : From the outset, our objectives - which remain the same today - were to punish those responsible for the chemical massacre on August 21 and to deter them from committing such an atrocity again. As Mr. Fabius reaffirmed on the radio this morning, “the reality is absolutely clear, there was a chemical massacre; it was Bashar al-Assad’s regime that had the weapons and that gave the order to use them.”

France presented to its P3 partners a draft resolution setting out these objectives in a text that we would like to be binding, that will ensure that the perpetrators of this massacre are held accountable and that will swiftly ensure the credible, effective and verifiable control of chemical weapons present in Syria.

Like our American and British partners, we are in contact with our Chinese and Russian interlocutors. We would like the negotiations to swiftly move forward and to achieve the broadest possible agreement. Although we are ready to negotiate we are not however ready to yield on our main principles and objectives which we share with a large part of the international community.

Syria (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - 12.09.13)

Q : The discussions at the UN on France’s draft resolution on Syria have begun. In France’s view, are Chapter 7 and recourse to the International Criminal Court preconditions?

A : From the outset, our objectives - which remain the same today - were to punish those responsible for the chemical massacre on August 21 and to deter them from committing such an atrocity again. As Mr. Fabius reaffirmed on the radio this morning, “the reality is absolutely clear, there was a chemical massacre; it was Bashar al-Assad’s regime that had the weapons and that gave the order to use them.”

France presented to its P3 partners a draft resolution setting out these objectives in a text that we would like to be binding, that will ensure that the perpetrators of this massacre are held accountable and that will swiftly ensure the credible, effective and verifiable control of chemical weapons present in Syria.

Like our American and British partners, we are in contact with our Chinese and Russian interlocutors. We would like the negotiations to swiftly move forward and to achieve the broadest possible agreement. Although we are ready to negotiate we are not however ready to yield on our main principles and objectives which we share with a large part of the international community.

Syria/chemical weapons – Statement by Laurent Fabius (09.09.13)

The proposal made by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, warrants careful examination. He now recognizes – as a result of the significant pressure that we’ve exerted – that there’s a serious problem with the huge stockpile of chemical weapons held by Bashar al-Assad. This proposal would be acceptable subject to at least three conditions:

-  Mr Bashar al-Assad must immediately pledge to place his entire chemical weapons arsenal under international control and allow it to be destroyed;

-  this operation must be carried out on the basis of a binding Security Council resolution within a short timeframe and with strong consequences if he doesn’t uphold his commitments;

-  those responsible for the chemical massacre on 21 August must not go unpunished. The matter must therefore be referred to the International Criminal Court.

France has set two objectives from the outset: to punish and to deter. That’s why we’re now demanding specific, prompt and verifiable commitments from the Syrian regime.

Syria - Calling for a strong international response (07.09.13)

Joint Statement on Syria

The Leaders and Representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America made the following statement on the margins of the Group of 20 Nations Leader’s Meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia:

The international norm against the use of chemical weapons is longstanding and universal. The use of chemical weapons anywhere diminishes the security of people everywhere. Left unchallenged, it increases the risk of further use and proliferation of these weapons.

We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21st that claimed the lives of so many men, women, and children. The evidence clearly points to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack, which is part of a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime.

We call for a strong international response to this grave violation of the world’s rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated. Those who perpetrated these crimes must be held accountable.

Signatories have consistently supported a strong UN Security Council Resolution, given the Security Council’s responsibilities to lead the international response, but recognize that the Council remains paralyzed as it has been for two and a half years. The world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability. We support efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

We commit to supporting longer term international efforts, including through the United Nations, to address the enduring security challenge posed by Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles. Signatories have also called for the UN fact finding mission to present its results as soon as possible, and for the Security Council to act accordingly.

We condemn in the strongest terms all human rights violations in Syria on all sides. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, more than 2 million people have become refugees, and approximately 5 million are internally displaced. Recognizing that Syria’s conflict has no military solution, we reaffirm our commitment to seek a peaceful political settlement through full implementation of the 2012 Geneva Communique. We are committed to a political solution which will result in a united, inclusive and democratic Syria.

We have contributed generously to the latest United Nations (UN) and ICRC appeals for humanitarian assistance and will continue to provide support to address the growing humanitarian needs in Syria and their impact on regional countries. We welcome the contributions announced at the meeting of donor countries on the margins of the G20. We call upon all parties to allow humanitarian actors safe and unhindered access to those in need.

European signatories will continue to engage in promoting a common European position

Syria – Government Declaration and Debate at the National Assembly and Senate Speech by Laurent Fabius at the Senate (04.09.13)

"Our message is clear: the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. We want to both penalize and deter, to respond to this atrocity in order to prevent it from happening again. We also want to show Bashar al-Assad that the only option he has is to negotiate."

Read the speech

Syria/Syrian chemical programme – National executive summary of declassified intelligence

This document has been produced through declassified intelligence mostly drawn from French-only sources. It includes a thorough technical analysis performed on open sources by our intelligence and technical services. It integrates, finally, some complementary elements received through cooperation with our closest partners.

Doc:Read the report , 98.5 ko, 0x0Read the report - (PDF, 98.5 ko)

Syria – Laurent Fabius’s continued exchanges (03.09.13)

Since the chemical massacre on August 21, Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, has been in continuous contact with our main European and international partners, the UN Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of the Arab League.

His discussions with them focused on the measures available to the international community to penalize the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s regime and to deter it from using them.

These exchanges will be actively pursued this week. Mr. Laurent Fabius spoke on the telephone this morning with his Portuguese counterpart and with Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

From September 5 to 6, the minister of foreign affairs will visit St. Petersburg where he will meet with the foreign affairs ministers attending the G20 summit, notably his American, Brazilian, Chinese, Russian and Turkish counterparts.

He will then be in Vilnius from September 6 to 7 in order to participate in the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers and the meeting scheduled to take place on the sidelines with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Syria – Excerpts from the interview given by François Hollande, President of the Republic, to the daily newspaper Le Monde (30.08.13)

"The Damascus chemical massacre cannot and must not remain unpunished. Otherwise it would mean taking the risk of an escalation that would trivialize the use of those weapons and threaten other countries. I’m not in favour of an international intervention aimed at “liberating” Syria or overthrowing the dictator, but I believe the regime must be stopped from committing the irreparable against its population."

Read the interview

Syria – Condemnation by the Syrian National Coalition of the use, manufacture, possession and trade of chemical weapons (30.08.13)

France welcomes the statements issued by Mr. Ahmad al-Assi al-Jarba, President of the Syrian National Coalition, condemning the use, manufacture, possession and trade of chemical weapons.

While, as we know, Bashar al-Assad’s regime perpetrated the chemical massacre on August 21, this commitment by the Syrian National Coalition sends a strong signal that it, in contrast to the Syrian regime, rejects chemical weapons. This commitment by the Coalition again demonstrates its sense of responsibility.

France has always been fully involved in the international efforts to promote disarmament and combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, France hopes that this commitment by the Syrian National Coalition will pave the way for a Syria of tomorrow where chemical weapons will always be prohibited.

21st Ambassadors’ Conference - Speech by François Hollande, President of the Republic (27.08.13)

"Do we act or not? Do we get involved or leave it to others? France has decided to exercise its responsibility everywhere, for itself and for world stability."

Read the speech]

Syria (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - 28.08.13)

Q : President Hollande announced yesterday that France would increase its military support for the Syrian National Coalition. What does he mean by that? If it involves arming the rebellion, what about concerns that the weapons could fall into the hands of extremists?

Our military support for the Syrian National Coalition will be strengthened “in accordance with our European commitments,” as outlined by President Hollande yesterday to the ambassadors.

The EU lifted the embargo on the supply of military equipment to the Syrian National Coalition on May 27, 2013.

Together with the other member states, we pledged to ensure that equipment would only be supplied to the Syrian National Coalition, in an effort to protect the civilian population, and to demand guarantees regarding the end users and the destination of the equipment in order to ensure that the process is closely monitored.

Syria – Chemical weapons (21.08.13)

France condemns the deadly attacks attributed to the Syrian regime on Wednesday, August 21, in the Damascus area, with a provisional toll that may exceed one hundred.

The perpetrators of these intolerable acts must be held accountable.

France also demands that full light be shed on the alleged use of chemical weapons in these attacks.

Syria – Egypt – Statement by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius following the European Union Foreign Affairs Council (21.08.13)

We examined two points today. First what happened in Damascus: France condemns the massacre in Damascus in the strongest possible terms and demands an immediate investigation. Allegations of the massive use of chemical weapons are exceptionally grave. There is a UN team in Damascus at the moment; the Syrian authorities must absolutely allow that team to do its job. That is France’s position. This very evening, I will meet with the president of the Syrian National Coalition who will, I’m sure, provide me with details on this chemical aspect, which is extremely serious.

That is, of course, an extremely important item. The other item we talked about was the situation in Egypt. The Europeans have taken a unanimous position—this is a very good thing—both to condemn the violence and to demand a political dialogue, because progress must be made as swiftly as possible toward new, inclusive elections. On the economic level, we have decided to continue our assistance to the Egyptian people, as the population is suffering enormously and it would be disastrous to withdraw aid, even if we reexamine our relations. On the military level, it was decided—and this is France’s position—to suspend all weapons deliveries that could be used internally and to reexamine our cooperation.

But the key points are the adoption of a unanimous European position, the affirmation of our principles, and at the same time, the resolve to maintain dialogue with the Egyptian people and their representatives, because we must get things moving while respecting Egyptian sovereignty. And we—in particular, we French—are longstanding friends of Egypt, are suffering from what is happening there, and want to do as much as we can to get things moving in a positive direction, although there remains a lot left to be done.

Q : If it is confirmed that chemical weapons were used, what will France and Europe’s reaction be?

A : It won’t simply be France’s reaction, I hope, but that of Europe as a whole and the international community. You know that these chemical weapons are condemned; a few countries in the world haven’t signed that condemnation, among them Bashar al-Assad[‘s Syria] and North Korea, which gives you an idea … but their use would be extremely serious. We know that the regime has chemical weapons, and so first, their use must be established. Thus the need for a swift UN investigation, since they’re on the ground. If their use is confirmed, there will not only be a very strong international condemnation, and certainly individual responses. These are things we’ve been following, not just alone but also with the British, the Americans, the Russians and others, for a long time. We cannot accept massacres, particularly involving the use of these extremely dangerous weapons—we’re talking about mustard gas, sarin, things that remind us of the horrors of the war. The last time gas of this type was used on a massive scale was during the Iraq war, by Saddam Hussein.


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