Q – President Macron (next to President Vladimir Putin) and the minister repeated several times that France has a red line with regard to humanitarian access in Syria. Can we say that this line has been crossed and, if so, what does France put forward as a consequence, in concrete terms?
A – The humanitarian situation in Syria, and especially in Eastern Ghouta and the Idlib region, is unacceptable. The bombardments have intensified and continue to deliberately target vital equipment and civilians, forcing several thousand to flee. In Eastern Ghouta, the regime continues its siege of 400,000 people, some of whom require emergency medical evacuations. The use of sieges as a weapon of war is unacceptable. We are also concerned by the Turkish intervention in Afrin, which must not further worsen the humanitarian situation.
The de-escalation zones provided by the Astana Agreement are not being respected. The nations guaranteeing that agreement have a major responsibility to enforce the commitments entered into, notably with respect to decreasing violence and humanitarian access to de-escalation zones, which Idlib and Ghouta are part of. It is imperative that they exert pressure on the regime to force it to abide by its commitments. UN convoys must have safe, complete, and unhindered access to besieged towns and populations in need.
France is working with its allies and partners to improve the situation. We are working within international bodies to ensure that concrete measures are taken as swiftly as possible and that violations of international humanitarian law do not go unpunished. We are actively engaged in seeking a negotiated political solution under UN auspices and according to the terms of Security Council resolution 2254, which alone will help restore peace in Syria.