Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, January 16, 2013)

Syria – Attack on Aleppo University (January 15, 2013)
Israeli – Construction of new homes in the West Bank
Mali


Syria – Attack on Aleppo University (January 15, 2013)

France utterly condemns the attack perpetrated yesterday against Aleppo University, which killed more than 82 people and injured more than 150, the vast majority of them students. The perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice. We note that the Syrian National Coalition, the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people, strongly condemned this attack.

This tragic incident, which once again has affected the civilian population, adds to the devastating toll of the Syrian crisis, which has left more than 60,000 people dead. It reinforces our belief that Bashar al-Assad must step down as swiftly as possible in order to allow a political transition to take place and the violence to end.

 

Israeli – Construction of new homes in the West Bank

France condemns the issuing by the Israeli government of invitations to tender for the construction of 198 new homes in two settlements in the southern West Bank.

It is especially concerned about the impact of these two projects on the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state. It therefore calls on the Israeli government to reverse this provocative and illegal decision.

France reaffirms that the continuation of settlement activity has a very negative impact on trust between the parties, that it fuels tensions on the ground and constitutes an obstacle to peace.

 

Mali

Are you concerned about possible human rights violations in Mali and more specifically about possible reprisals by the Malian army against the Tuareg and Arab populations in the north, as the UN fears? Have there been any arrests and who is monitoring the situation of the prisoners? And a clarification: will the meeting with the NGOs at the Quai d’Orsay on the humanitarian situation taking place today as announced during yesterday’s briefing, or on Thursday as revised by the deputy spokesperson in the evening and has a date now been set for the NGOs in Bamako to meet Ambassador Rouyer?

The protection of human rights, the protection of civilians and the fight against impunity are priorities of France’s external action. It will do everything possible to stop the human rights violations throughout Mali and to ensure that no reprisals take place.

We’ve notably been working within the Security Council and the Human Rights Council to ensure that the international community remains fully mobilized. France has sought to ensure that this issue is fully addressed within resolution 2085 authorizing the deployment of an international force to Mali, notably with respect to the recruitment of child soldiers and the violation of women’s rights.

This resolution reaffirms the primary responsibility of the Malian authorities, which have a duty to set an example with respect to the protection of the civilian populations. It also provides for the implementation of a mechanism to monitor compliance with international humanitarian law and respect for human rights, with the submission of periodic reports. France also supports the fact that Mali has referred the situation to the International Criminal Court for investigation of the war crimes.

Regarding your second question, please refer to the Ministry of Defense.

The meeting with the NGOs, devoted to the humanitarian situation in Mali, will take place on Thursday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Crisis Center. Our ambassador in Bamako, Mr. Christian Rouyer, is due to receive the NGOs present in Mali, notably to provide them with precautions with respect to vigilance and security.