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24 March 2011 - Libya - Remarks to the press by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

In French and in English

Ladies and Gentlemen, Considering that the French forces are engaged, I’ll speak first in French and then switch to English.

Le Secrétaire général nous a présenté son rapport sur la mise en œuvre de la résolution 1973, sept jours après son adoption, comme l’exigeait la résolution. Les membres de la coalition, de leur côté, ont fait part des notifications, notifications du début des opérations et notifications des opérations que les membres de la coalition ont conduites.

Cette résolution a pour objectif de protéger les civils contre les exactions du régime de Kadhafi. La mise en œuvre de la résolution 1973 est déjà un double succès : nous avons évité un massacre à Benghazi et stoppé net l’offensive des troupes de Kadhafi ; la zone d’exclusion aérienne qu’avait demandée la Ligue arabe est en place. Ce matin même, un avion de l’armée de l’air libyenne a été détruit par un avion de chasse français.

Pour arriver à ce résultat, la France déploie une force aéronavale : nous avons sur zone une vingtaine d’avions de combat ; et depuis hier, le porte-avions Charles de Gaulle est opérationnel sur zone.

La France n’est pas seule : 11 Etats, dont deux arabes, ont décidé de rejoindre la coalition. La mission n’est pas terminée pour autant. Car le cessez-le-feu immédiat exigé par la résolution n’est pas respecté par Kadhafi : ses forces continuent de tirer sur la population civile à Misrata, à Zawiyah et dans d’autres villes du pays. L’accès humanitaire est entravé sur la quasi-totalité du territoire libyen.

Nous ne voulons pas des mots, nous voulons des actes : le Colonel Kadhafi doit accepter un cessez-le-feu immédiat ; ses forces doivent se retirer de toutes les zones où elles sont entrées ; les soldats doivent rentrer dans leurs casernes ; l’aide humanitaire doit pouvoir pénétrer sans entraves. C’est à cette condition qu’un dialogue politique pourra s’instaurer, devant permettre au peuple libyen de décider de son destin.

Let’s switch to English.

The Secretary General presented his report on the implementation of resolution 1973, seven days after its adoption, as required by the resolution, and the members of the coalition on their side have notified the beginning of the operations and the operations themselves as required by the resolution.

As you know, this resolution aims to protect civilians against the acts of violence of the Gaddafi regime. It has been successful so far in two ways: we avoided a massacre in Benghazi and cut short the offensive of the Gaddafi troops. Secondly, the no-fly zone is in place. This morning a French fighter jet destroyed a plane of the Libyan Air Force.

To achieve this, France has committed air and naval forces. We have more than twenty combat aircrafts in the area. And since yesterday, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is operating off the Libyan coast.

France is of course not alone: 11 states, including two Arabs, have decided to join the coalition.

The mission is not over, however. The immediate cease-fire demanded by the resolution is not respected by Gaddafi: his forces continue to fire on civilian populations in Misrata in Zawiyah and other cities. Humanitarian access is hindered in almost all of Libya.

We do not want words, we want action: Colonel Qaddafi must accept a cease-fire immediately; his forces must withdraw from all areas where they entered; soldiers must go back to their barracks; humanitarian aid must be able to enter unimpeded. Only then can a political dialogue be established, to enable the Libyan people to decide on their destiny.

Q: the US wants to disinvest. Is there a timeframe for the Americans to disinvest?

Ask the Americans.

Q. Are you happy with the conduct of the war so far?

That’s war, we are doing our best to reach our goal and implement the resolution.

Q. Do you have a comment on the command going to Nato?

It means that France accepts it because Nato works by consensus.

Q. How about arming the rebels? Do you believe it’s legal under resolution 1973?

We are implementing the resolution to the letter.

Q. What’s going to happen tomorrow in Addis Ababa?

We are looking for a political solution, and the political solution should allow the Libyan people to decide their own fate. So every political solution coming from whatever corner will be welcome provided that the Libyan people will be able to make their own choice. On a national basis, we don’t think that Gaddafi could be part of the political solution. We are not in a regime change operation.

Q. Gaddafi has not shown any compliance to the resolution. Are you concerned that the war might go on for a long time?

It’s a hypothetical question. Again let’s see what today is made of, and tomorrow with the African meeting. We are all looking for a political solution.

Q. How many questions have you answered today at the Council?

It was a normal and not a contentious meeting. It was normal that some countries were raising concerns about the civilian casualties.

Q. Which countries?

I’m not going to say. We all share the same concerns. The members of the coalition have answered that they were doing their best first to avoid civilian casualties and secondly that there were not confirmed reports of civilian casualties. Again, a lot of countries were insisting on the need for a political solution, and were insisting that tomorrow the African Union meeting could be positive, and third they were hoping that Mr. Al Khatib could fulfill all his mandate. There was a general feeling that the operation is not an end in itself, what we are looking for is a political solution. Everybody around the table is asking the same question. How to go from the emergency? If the French planes intervened on Saturday it was because of an emergency. It was to prevent the Gaddafi forces from entering the outskirts of Benghazi. And Mr. Gaddafi himself said that there would be rivers of blood. We have met this emergency by stopping Gaddafi and avoiding a major bloodshed in Benghazi. Now of course the question is the political outcome.

Q. Can you predict for how long the war will go on?

Of course not. Thank you.



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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU