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27 April 2011 - The situation in Syria - Remarks to the press by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

In French and in English

Dans l’enceinte du Conseil de sécurité, la France a condamné à nouveau, et avec la plus grande fermeté, l’escalade de la répression par les autorités syriennes. La poursuite de la répression en Syrie est, comme l’a souligné le Président de la République, inacceptable.

Cette escalade, qui se traduit notamment par le recours à des moyens militaires lourds, comme les chars à Deraa, a entraîné la mort de nombreux manifestants pacifiques.

Dans ce contexte dramatique, il importait que le Conseil ne reste pas silencieux et adresse aux autorités syriennes un message fort. C’est précisément l’objectif de cette session publique du Conseil.

Les libertés et droits fondamentaux des Syriens doivent être respectés, notamment la liberté de manifester et de presse

La France est mobilisée pour qu’un terme soit mis sans délais aux violences et que les autorités syriennes trouvent une solution pacifique aux aspirations de leur population.

La France agit dans quatre directions :

Ici à New York, au Conseil de sécurité, en œuvrant pour mobiliser la communauté internationale pour condamner la répression

— à Paris, où l’Ambassadrice de Syrie a été convoquée ce matin, et à qui nous avons exprimé, sans ambiguïté, notre condamnation

— A Bruxelles où nous examinons avec nos partenaires de l’Union européenne la possibilité de sanctions

— A Genève, en plaidant pour une action forte au Conseil des droits de l’Homme.

Today, at the Security Council, France has again condemned in the strongest terms the escalation of the repression by the Syrian authorities. This continued repression in Syria is, as the President of the Republic has said, unacceptable.

This escalation, which includes resorting to heavy weapons such as tanks in Dera, has led to the death of many peaceful demonstrators.

In this tragic context, it was important that the Council did not remain silent and sent a strong message to the Syrian authorities. It was precisely the purpose of holding this public session of the Council.

Fundamental freedoms and political rights must be respected, including the freedom to demonstrate and to inform. The message must be heard by the Syrian authorities. Violence must stoop now.

France is mobilized to put an end to the violence without delay.

France is acting in four directions:

— Here in New York, at the Security Council, working for a condemnation by the international community of the repression

— In Paris, where the Ambassador of Syria has been summoned this morning, and to whom we have expressed without any ambiguity our condemnation of the repression by the Syrian authorities.

— In Brussels, where we are examining with our partners of the European Union the possibility of sanctions

— Finally, in Geneva, where we are advocating for a strong action at the Council for Human Rights.

Q: There are several countries that say that this is not right and that international community should not get involved in internal matters .. inaudible

First I think no country have discussed the responsibility of the Security Council because as you know on the agenda of the Security Council you have the Middle East, so when we have asked for a public meeting of the Security Council nobody has objected to it. That’s a very important point. What we want to send was simply a message to the Syrian authorities to stop the violence now.

We have heard a briefing by Mr Pascoe. He told us that the city of Dera has been kept without any communication with the exterior for three days. In Dera, there is no electricity, no water, no communication which means that there could be humanitarian consequences on the civilian population. So it was a way to say to the Syrian authorities to stop immediately the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators.

Q: Mr Ambassador, what do you expect from the Human Rights Council meeting?

I don’t know the exact text that would be put to a vote in Geneva. Of course France wants to have a condemnation of the use of violence by the Syrian authorities against peaceful demonstrators but I don’t know what will come out of the discussions.

Q: With regards with the statement made by the Syrian ambassador, he made serious allegations that some external forces are responsible for covert actions inside the country, do you have a reaction on these allegations?

We have supported the call of the Secretary General for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into these allegations. I should add that every dictatorship facing opposition usually claims that there is a foreign involvement in revolts. So it’s nothing new.

Q: How do you answer to the list that the Ambassador has provided with 51 names of officers and security people in?

Mr Pascoe made a briefing in which he confirmed that demonstrators resorted to the use of force in only one occasion as the people in Dera were shot at by the security forces, they seized the weapons and shot back. That was the only confirmed example of use of force by the demonstrators against the security forces. Firstly, you have hundred of casualties on the civilian population side.

Secondly, as I have already said, we are asking for an independent investigation on these allegations. So if the Syrian government accepts this investigation, it would be a good opportunity to substantiate its own allegations.

Q: Est-ce que cet échec à obtenir une déclaration commune sur la Syrie qui vient après un échec sur le Yémen, signifie qu’il devient de plus en plus difficile pour le Conseil de sécurité de se saisir des questions du printemps arabe ?

Pour le moment, je ne dirais pas que c’est un échec, ce n’est pas exclu que nous ayons dans l’avenir une déclaration à la presse. Ce qu’il nous est apparu, c’est que pour le moment les positions étaient très éloignées et que si nous nous engagions dans la négociation d’une déclaration à la presse cela risquait d’être un processus très long. C’est-à-dire, nous n’avons pas échoué mais nous avons simplement considéré qu’il y avait une urgence à envoyer un message public.

The question was whether there was a failure of the Security Council to agree on a press statement. We considered that the positions were so far apart that negotiating a press statement would take too much time and we preferred to hold a public session immediately, considering the emergency, to transmit the message.

Q: Est-ce que vous avez déjà pensé à ce qu’il se passera au niveau du Conseil de sécurité si le gouvernement syrien refuse l’enquête ?

C’est une question hypothétique. It’s an hypothetical question.

Q: How can you get an independent investigation? Is there any group in the UN who would approve one or are you waiting for Syria to accept it?

It is impossible to think of an independent investigation without the agreement of the Syrian government.

Q: Is it your understanding that the Lebanese government supported the press statement proposed here? And also, can you respond on Western Sahara to the statement made here after the vote? There were people saying that it was inconsistent for France to be for Human Rights in one place and not for monitoring them in another.

On Lebanon, you would have to ask Lebanon to answer the question. On the second one, on Western Sahara, I don’t understand your question. We didn’t oppose anything in this negotiation. There was a report by the Secretary General. On this basis, the Americans prepared a text and this text was more or less adopted by the Group of Friends. At no moment during this negotiation France opposed anything.

Q: You opposed the Human Rights monitoring mechanism…

It was not in the text presented by the Americans. I negotiate on the basis of a text. The text was prepared by the Americans. It was not in the American text. You can’t reproach us for opposing something that was not proposed.



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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