Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, March 14, 2013)

 

Visit by Mr. Laurent Fabius to Cameroon and Nigeria (March 15 to 16, 2013)
Tunisia – Inauguration of the government
Nepal – Swearing-in of Mr. Khil Raj Regmi as chairman of the Interim Election Council
Syria: political solution
Syria: arms


Visit by Mr. Laurent Fabius to Cameroon and Nigeria (March 15 to 16, 2013)

Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will visit Cameroon and Nigeria from March 15 to 16, 2013.

This visit falls within the framework of the French authorities’ wholehearted commitment to securing the release of our compatriots being held hostage in Nigeria by terrorist groups. It also aims to strengthen cooperation with these two states which are already fully committed to combating terrorism.

In Cameroon, the minister of foreign affairs will meet with Mr. Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, as well as with Mr. Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, Minister of External Relations.

In Nigeria, Laurent Fabius will meet with Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The minister will meet with the French community in both countries. He will express to them France’s solidarity and reaffirm the emphasis our country places on their security, in coordination with the states in which they reside.

 

Tunisia – Inauguration of the government

Following the National Constituent Assembly’s vote of confidence in Mr. Ali Larayedh’s government, France congratulates the prime minister and the ministers on their appointment. It wishes them success in carrying out the important mission before them.

France will continue to fully cooperate with the Tunisian government. It reaffirms its full support for Tunisia in its efforts to complete the transition, in particular through the adoption of the new constitution and the holding of elections, in accordance with the universal values that underpinned the revolution.

France’s commitment to building the new Tunisia, within the framework of a democratic and peaceful process, is constant. It is demonstrated by ambitious and substantial bilateral cooperation and trusting dialogue with all stakeholders in the transition.

 

Nepal – Swearing-in of Mr. Khil Raj Regmi as chairman of the Interim Election Council

France welcomes the appointment of Mr. Khil Raj Regmi as chairman of Nepal’s Interim Election Council, which should constitute an important step toward the normalization of the political situation. France reaffirms its attachment to a transparent, inclusive and consensual electoral process.

The political parties’ agreement to avoid any possibility of widespread impunity for human rights violations during the 1996-2006 conflict goes in the right direction. France urges Nepal to ensure compliance with international standards for the protection of human rights.

 

Syria: political solution

Top U.S. diplomat, John Kerry, is calling for negotiations between President Assad and the Syrian opposition within the framework of the Geneva agreement. In this respect, he shares Russia’s position. What’s your position regarding these negotiations? Have you made any progress with your allies in selecting the Syrian figures who could be included in these negotiations?

The Syrian tragedy can only be resolved through a political solution which involves initiating dialogue between the opposition and the members of the regime who don’t have blood on their hands. This is in line with the proposal made by Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of the Syrian National Coalition which we support. It’s clear that the Syrian regime will not be able survive these two years of revolution and that Bashar al-Assad cannot be part of these discussions because of the crimes that he has committed, which have been classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity by the UN Human Rights Council.

In order to achieve this we’re in close and continuous contact with our Russian, American and European partners, in coordination with the Syrian National Coalition and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi. Two years after the start of the Syrian revolution and a tragedy that has resulted in a death toll of over 70,000 and a million refugees, there’s an urgent need to establish this dialogue.

 

Syria: arms

Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that lifting the embargo is the only solution to the Syrian crisis. Do you think that the military solution has become inevitable and that the political negotiations have again failed?

Which type of weapons are France and the United Kingdom demanding that the European arms embargo be lifted on? Are there reliable troops ready to receive these arms?

Will Paris and London deliver these arms to the Syrian rebels, even without the EU’s agreement? Or is this a hope expressed by the minister of foreign affairs to the Europeans?

The minister expressed his views this morning. In particular, he pointed out – and I quote – that “our position, which is also shared by the British, involves asking the Europeans to lift the embargo so that the resistance fighters can defend themselves.

From the outset, France has led the way in supporting the Syrian resistance. We’re doing so at the humanitarian level. We’re doing so on a political level by supporting the opposition but the toll is absolutely appalling. More than 70,000 people have died, there are well over a million refugees, and the region itself is being torn apart. This current imbalance is unacceptable, with, on one side, Iran and Russia, which are supplying arms to Bashar al-Assad, and, on the other side, the resistance fighters who are unable to defend themselves.

That doesn’t mean in any way that we’re abandoning the political solution but Bashar al-Assad doesn’t want to budge because he has a sense of permanent superiority as a result of the weapons. Indeed, lifting the embargo is one of the only ways left to change things politically.

We have to move quickly. The Europeans are supposed to take up this matter again in a few weeks, but we will request, together with the British, that the meeting to examine all this be brought forward.”