Forty thousand deaths in the Syrian conflict, hundreds of thousands of refugees and a crisis extending to many neighbouring countries. In this context, the decision taken in Doha on 11 November – i.e. the union of all the opposition forces within one institution, the Syrian National Coalition – is the first ray of hope for a very long time. On all the benches in this Assembly, it’s long been emphasized – rightly – that in the face of the Syrian tragedy, in the face of Bashar al-Assad, the opposition should be able to unite; for a whole series of reasons, this wasn’t possible. Now it’s been done; I’ve met the new leader of the Syrian National Coalition. He’s been invited to Paris; he’ll be here in the coming days. This decision opens up new ground in at least three areas. Firstly, at humanitarian level, funds will be able to come together to help refugees both inside and outside the country through a single body. Secondly, work is being done to ensure the different armed forces can come together. And – crucially – in line with the call we made back in August, there’ll be a united provisional government of the opposition forces in Syria. That’s why I think it’s excellent that through the voice with the greatest authority, that of President Hollande, France, as in other periods in her history, has been the first power in Europe to recognize the Syrian National Coalition’s legitimacy in representing the Syrian people.
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