Syria - Q&A - Excerpts from the daily press briefing (18.12.18)

Q : What is France’s response to two statements (Turkish and American) pointing to a change with regard to Bashar al-Assad?

1) by the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who says that Turkey could consider cooperating with Bashar al-Assad should he prove the winner in democratic and transparent elections;

2) by the U.S. State Department’s special representative for Syria engagement, James Jeffrey, who said yesterday that U.S. Syria policy is not aimed at “getting rid of” President al-Assad.

A : As President Macron reaffirmed in Brussels on December 14, combatting Daesh remains France’s absolute priority in Syria.

The only way to restore peace in Syria and stability in the region and to permanently eradicate terrorism is to obtain a credible, sustainable political solution consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

France is mobilizing all its efforts to achieve this political resolution to the conflict, particularly through the dialogue with the main regional and international stakeholders, and especially those of the Small Group and Astana Group. It reaffirms the need for the UN to establish a credible, balanced constitutional committee before the end of the year, in keeping with the commitments taken at the Istanbul Summit on October 27.

The establishment of the constitutional committee must make it possible to revive a credible and inclusive political process leading to the holding of free, impartial elections under UN supervision. All Syrians, including refugees and internally displaced persons, must be able to choose their own leaders in a neutral environment guaranteed by confidence-building measures.

As Jean-Yves Le Drian has said on several occasions, it is not realistic to imagine Bashar al-Assad staying in power in a reconciled Syria.