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7 June 2012 - Syria - Remarks to the press by Mr. Martin Briens, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations

(in French and in English)

We have just heard presentations by Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-moon and the Secretary-general of the Arab League. Their conclusions are very clear and overwhelming.

Not only has the violence not ended but it is growing worse by the day, as demonstrated by the Houleh massacre, which proves that the Syrian regime is continuing its fierce and bloody crackdown. In addition, we also heard of a new massacre committed yesterday. Not only the repression goes on but also are the Syrian security forces hindering UNSMIS ability to check what happened. I want to repeat it tonight: those responsible for these atrocities must be held accountable.

The second finding is that the Syrian regime has respected none of the commitments of the Annan plan. It has turned a deaf ear to the demands of the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, the League of Arab states.

The third finding is that no political process is going on, due to a total lack of willingness on the part of the Assad regime.

As the special envoy and the Secretary-General said, we know the risks of the present situation: chaos in Syria, destabilization in the region.

In this context, we have all reaffirmed our full support for Kofi Annan and UNSMIS. I would like to pay tribute to them tonight.

Mr Annan has asked us for more than words. He asked us for actions. He is asking the Council to take up its responsibilities and raise the pressure in particular on the Syrian government which has not implemented the Annan plan.

What we need to do now is to change gear, and to intensify our efforts to mobilize the international community around two objectives:

First, to increase pressure on the Assad government so that it implements its obligations, and if it fails to do so, it will have to face consequences; Second, to work with all interested partners toward a credible political transition that will meet the aspirations of the Syrian people.

This is what we intend to do in the coming days at the Council, but also elsewhere. To conclude, I would like to mention that the President of the Republic has just announced that France will hold on July 6 the next meeting of the group of Friends of the Syria.

Que pensez vous de la proposition de Kofi Annan d’un groupe de contact des pays influents sur la Syrie et est ce que la France est prête à y accueillir l’Iran ?

Nous entendons beaucoup de propositions. Le point clé est qu’il faut mobiliser la communauté internationale et si nous sommes clairs sur les objectifs, tout cadre est bienvenu. Mais il ne faut pas se focaliser sur les processus, à ce stade, il est important de se concentrer sur la substance et c’est d’ailleurs ce dont nous avons parlé au Conseil. Nous y avons parlé du fond : la situation et comment y répondre. Mais le cadre ainsi que les participants restent à déterminer. Le point clé est : "sommes-nous d’accord dans la communauté internationale sur la marche à suivre ?". Selon nous celle-ci est d’accroître la pression sur le gouvernement syrien et travailler sur une transition politique crédible.

Mr Annan emphasized just now that inclusion of Iran would be essential in putting the peace process forward. But were there any differences in your opinion within the Security Council that Iran should not be included and that it is somehow hampering the process of going forward or are you all on board with Mr. Annan’s plan?

Actually, we didn’t discuss that in any details, what we focused on was substance. The point is: do we have a common assessment of the situation? I think we have. Do we have a common view of the risks lying ahead? I think we have. Do we have a common strategy? This is what we want to work on. The question of participants will come in due time. I think the key issue we discussed was really the issue of substance.

In order to preserve the unity of the Council behind Mr. Annan, is it not essential that even the plan, which is a regional contact group plan should also be supported?

You should not misinterpret what he said, the contact group is not a plan, the plan is the Annan plan with its six points and the question is: "are all members of the international community willing now and with a great sense of urgency at this point, to put all their weight behind his plan so that the Syrian government can start to implement it". That is the question and that is the Annan plan. The contact group issue is about the way there should be an agreement to move forward in the same direction and get all the right partners together. But this is a modality. The key thing is: do we have a common agenda or not? I think tonight’s discussion, thanks to Mr. Annan, thanks to the Secretary-General and thanks to Mr. al-Arabi, enabled us to make a lot of progress, because we have a common assessment.

Is there a time line for when you want to circulate a draft resolution on Syria?

There is a sense of urgency for sure, a need for action. Now we have to put together all the pieces. What we do in the Council, the various consultations that are going on here and there, are all converging. Of course, there are some official timelines, like the renewal of the mandate of UNSMIS, but at the same time, given what we know from the ground, I don’t think we could be able to wait until that. But at this point, there is no timeline. The sooner the better.

Thank you.

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