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Syria/high-level international conference, “Supporting Syria and the region”

Published on February 5, 2016
Speech by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
London, February 4, 2016

Prime Minister,

Heads of state and government,

Secretary-General,

Ministers,

On France’s behalf, I thank the UK Prime Minister for his welcome. I also thank the governments of Kuwait, Germany and Norway, and the United Nations Secretary-General, for this initiative.

1/ The international community is gathered to tackle this humanitarian tragedy. France, like all of you, is playing its role in this, and I announce here that France will devote more than €1 billion to it for the period 2016-2018.

Following the additional €100 million released at the end of 2015 to support the humanitarian agencies’ work, €200 million for the period 2016-2018 will be mobilized to support young people and education, mainly in Lebanon, with our efforts focused on education and support for cross-border assistance.

As for Jordan, the French Development Agency is ready to release €900 million in loans, €600 million of them in sovereign loans. To these, the state will add €50 million in loans on very concessional terms. We’re also supporting the easing of the European rules of origin and the finance initiatives being led by multilateral banks such as the World Bank and the EBRD.

Regarding Turkey, it’s now a question of implementing the commitments made by the European Union.

Prime Minister,

2/ We’re gathered here full of goodwill to address the humanitarian crisis, but let’s not ignore the reality: unless we tackle the political roots of the crisis, we’ll have to meet again to fund the reception of more Syrian refugees next year and in the years that follow.

Staffan de Mistura has striven in vain to open negotiations between the regime and the opposition. The brutal offensive launched by the regime with the support of Russian strikes, to place Aleppo and its million inhabitants under an appalling siege, is torpedoing those efforts. With its foreign allies, Damascus is violating all its humanitarian obligations and the Security Council resolutions, starving nearly 200,000 people, deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure, secretly holding tens of thousands of prisoners and refusing humanitarian access to UN agencies. You can’t – it’s common sense – claim to be working for a Syrian solution to the crisis while bombing Syrians. That’s the observation Staffan de Mistura was making when he announced the suspension of the talks, and we’re asking the Security Council and the International Criminal Court to establish accountability for these crimes.

This is our solution: the resumption of talks must be accompanied by compliance with international humanitarian law and Resolution 2254, which provides for the lifting of all sieges in Syria, without exception, continuous unrestricted humanitarian access and the halting of all attacks on civilians, especially the indiscriminate bombing. This isn’t a concession to be negotiated, it’s an obligation.

Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

We need an effective transition in Syria – for the Syrian people, for the Middle East and also for Europe, which is shaken by the refugee crisis and the security threat originating in Syria. France will continue to help bring about this political solution. We expect a similar commitment from our partners. Thank you./.

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