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12 March 2012 - The situation in the Middle East - Remarks to the press by Mr. Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European affairs

(In French and in English)

Mesdames et Messieurs,

J’ai souhaité aujourd’hui devant le Conseil de sécurité apporter deux messages.

Tout d’abord un message de soutien aux peuples arabes, à ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler « le ou les printemps arabes ». C’est un mouvement profond d’inspiration à la liberté et à la démocratie. C’est une chance aux yeux de la France et nous soutenons donc ces mouvements tout en étant bien conscients des difficultés que tout processus de transition, tout processus révolutionnaires puisque dans certains de ces pays il s’agit bien d’une révolution comportent. Il faudra du temps, et nous sommes décidés à accompagner les mouvements et notamment apporter l’aide économique qui permettra à ces pays de surmonter mes difficultés auxquelles ils ont à faire face.

Et puis mon second message concerne la Syrie, il faut arrêter le massacre dont la responsabilité incombe à Bachar Al-Assad et à son armée. Nous sommes tout à fait décidés à travailler à un nouveau projet de résolution qui exigerait l’arrêt immédiat des violences et un accès humanitaire immédiat, mais sous certaines conditions.

La première de ces conditions c’est que nous n’accepterons pas que soient mis sur le même plan les oppresseurs et les victimes. Au début de ces événements, les manifestants ont exprimé leur aspiration à la liberté de manière pacifique et c’est le régime qui a utilisé la violence pour les réprimer. Les responsabilités doivent être clairement établies.

En deuxième lieu, ce que nous n’accepterons pas c’est qu’on gèle la situation politique par une sorte de statu quo de fait. Il est très important que le processus politique proposé par la Ligue Arabe qui doit conduire à un gouvernement d’union nationale et à une feuille de route débouchant sur des élections ne soit pas perdu de vue et c’est que nous attendons de la part de l’envoyé spécial du Secrétaire général des Nations unies et de la Ligue arabe M. Kofi Annan dont nous soutenons bien sûr la mission.

This morning I sent two main messages. The first one is the support that France gives to the Arab people and to the so-called Arab Spring. This aspiration to freedom and to democracy is a great hope for Arab countries. We are perfectly aware that any transitional process is difficult, it takes time and there are some risks but we are ready to support this important movement towards freedom and our support will be especially an economic one in the framework of the Deauville partnership that the French President launched last year and that is now implemented by the American President.

My second message is that we are ready to support a new resolution paving the way to a cease-fire and to the stop of the violence provided that the treatment of both sides is not equal because of the responsibility of the regime. We don’t want to put at the same level the oppressor and the victims.

The second point for us, which is a red line, is that we want of course a cease fire, humanitarian access but at the same time a political process, Syrian-led and leading to free elections that take into account the aspiration of the Syrian people to freedom and democracy.

Q: Mr Minister, are you trying to negotiate the five points agreed between Lavrov and the Arab league to put it in a Security Council resolution? And if so, is it your understanding that the terms of reference of Mr Kofi Annan are the detailed positions of the Arab League including January 22nd meeting that this is a negotiated political process of transition, can you clarify your understanding?

We will instruct our representative here in New York to continue the discussion about the draft resolution. I listened very attentively to what Sergueï Lavrov said this morning and I found that his statement on the fifth point remains ambiguous. We need a clear reference to the Arab League’s plan and to the General Assembly resolution - I remind that the mission given to Kofi Annan is in the framework of this General Assembly resolution. For us it is very important point, this resolution supports, endorses, welcomes the Arab League’s plan.

Q : Sur la Syrie, est-ce qu’on peut imaginer, comme le suggère l’Allemagne, s’inspirer de l’expérience du Yémen où le chef d’Etat a fini par partir en vertu d’un accord de transition qui lui accordait l’immunité ?

Je sais que c’est ce qu’on appelle « la solution yéménite ». Je vous renvoie à la proposition de la Ligue arabe, du 22 janvier dernier, qui s’inspire effectivement de cette démarche puisqu’elle prévoit que le Président syrien devrait se mettre à l’écart, que son vice-président engage un processus politique conduisant à un gouvernement de transition et à des élections. On peut effectivement considérer qu’on s’inspire de ce qui a donné aujourd’hui des résultats positifs au Yémen.

Q : Mr le ministre, le Conseil de sécurité est toujours bloqué, et Serguei Lavrov l’a encore confirmé ce matin, est-ce qu’aujourd’hui certains pays sont tentés de fournir des armes aux rebelles, et est-ce que l’on en parle dans les négociations ?

Nous avons tous exclu - je veux parler des pays européens en tout cas, et pour ce qui concerne la France - toute dimension militaire à notre intervention.

Q: Mr Foreign minister, last week a French diplomat criticized the current draft resolution on Syria as being weak, do you feel that it has been sufficiently strengthened so that you could support it?

I mentioned our two red lines. The first one is the responsibility of the regime in the process of the cease fire. The initiative must come from the regime and then immediately of course, the other groups in Syria must cease any violence. The second red line, I mentioned it very clearly, very precisely, is a reference to a political process. We cannot just say that violence must cease and humanitarian access must be guaranteed. We also must take into account the aspirations of the Syrian people to freedom and to democracy.

Q: Mr Foreign Minister, now it looks like you are not going to be able to pass the Russian obstacle here in the Security Council, from what we observed, do you see the Security Council as the only place that can decide on Syria, or do you think that places like the “Friends of Syria” that had a meeting in Tunisia, can do some other things?

The place where the issue of peace and security, not only in the region but also in the world, has to be discussed is the Security Council. That is why we hope, we are waiting for a resolution of the Security Council, and we urge the countries which vetoed the resolution, China and Russia, to take into account the new developments, and especially the mission of Kofi Annan. But there are other places where we are active and especially we are preparing the next meeting of the “Group of the Friends of Syria” which will take place in Ankara. I personally wish that this meeting could take place as soon as possible, within two or three weeks, before the end of March, because it is a place where the international pressure, on the regime and on all the international actors must be the strongest.

Q: Russia and China seemed to be referring back to Libya in the debate, Russia said “ don’t mislead the international community” and China said “ don’t exceed mandates or resolutions”, which might refer to NATO bombings and the arming of some rebels in Libya. Do you think that decisions made by NATO and also by France itself on Libya have provided support to them, or are a pretext, or have an effect on this debate?

As I have said this morning in my speech, France is proud of its intervention in Libya. We have saved thousands of lives, we have protected the population of Benghazi and we have applied the resolution of the Security Council very strictly, in our mind. It is rather indecent to try to condemn this intervention and at the same time to block, to veto a resolution in Syria just at the moment when the regime is killing hundreds and hundreds of victims. I hope everybody will be consistent with its own statements.

Thank you very much.



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