Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, May10, 2013)

DRC – Attack against MONUSCO
Israel/ Palestinian Territories – Settlement activity
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (May 10)
Syria – Political process
Syria – Al Nusra

DRC – Attack against MONUSCO

France strongly condemns the attack against a convoy of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) on May 7 in the Bukavu area and strongly deplores the death of a Pakistani soldier belonging to the mission. It extends its condolences to the victim’s family and to the Pakistani authorities.

We urge the Congolese authorities to do everything possible to identify, arrest and prosecute those responsible for this attack against peacekeepers.

We pay tribute to the commitment of the men and women of MONUSCO to promoting peace under particularly difficult conditions, notably due to the action of armed groups.

France reaffirms its full support for MONUSCO, which is working to re-establish security in eastern DRC.


Israel/ Palestinian Territories – Settlement activity

France condemns the Israeli government’s approval of the program to build 296 new homes in the settlement of Beit El in the West Bank.

It reaffirms that settlement activity constitutes an obstacle to a just peace based on the two-state solution, that it fuels tensions on the ground and is illegal under international law.

In the context of efforts to relaunch the peace process, this decision jeopardizes the re-establishment of trust between the parties.


International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (May 10)

France will commemorate the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on May 10. It recalls that many people continue to be the victims of the slave trade and the worst forms of exploitation all over the world.

France is especially involved in the fight against these modern forms of slavery. It notably calls for the universal ratification of the Additional Protocol to the Palermo Convention which it signed in 2000 and ratified in 2002. This international agreement aims to prevent, suppress and punish human trafficking and to implement instruments aimed at combating these crimes.

France supports the global initiative to combat human trafficking which combines and coordinates the actions of international organizations as well as the United Nations global plan of action against trafficking launched in 2010 which established a fund to provide assistance to victims.

France is also a party to various International Labor Organization conventions on forced labor and to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, one of the protocols of which relates to the trafficking of children.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is contributing to this commemoration by organizing several events to raise the awareness among civil society of the current relevance and universal nature of this scourge.


Syria – Political process

Can you give a brief statement about the convergence of views between the USA and Russia on how to proceed in order to put an end to the Syrian civil war? Is Paris sympathetic to the idea of negotiations that are open to both the opposition and elements of the Syrian regime?

As reaffirmed by the minister of foreign affairs in his interview published yesterday in Le Monde, France’s priority is to find a political solution to the tragedy being suffered by the Syrian people for more than 2 years now that will prevent Bashar al-Assad from remaining in power.

This involves establishing a transitional government with full executive powers, formed on the basis of mutual consent. That’s why we’ve been calling for some time now for a second meeting to be organized in order to follow up on the meeting in June 2012 in Geneva which laid the initial foundations for a political transition.

We therefore welcome the outcome of the meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the desire expressed by Russia and the United States to make progress toward a process aimed at achieving a negotiated settlement of the Syrian crisis.

We are playing an active role in this, in close collaboration with our main partners. Mr. Laurent Fabius discussed this topic with Mr. John Kerry on Wednesday.


Syria – Al Nusra

= if there are questions =

As the minister indicated, we want to strengthen our support for the Syrian National Council. It represents the moderate opposition, which reaffirmed its principles and its values, based on democracy, law and respect for all communities, in the Istanbul Declaration on April 20.

A clear distinction should be made between this opposition and the terrorist elements which we unequivocally condemn. It’s in this context that we requested that the Al Nusra Front be included in the UN Al Qaeda Sanctions List

= if there are other questions =

Syria also made this request but we suggest listing it as Al Qaeda in Iraq so that a simplified and more consensual procedure can be used since this involves a minor revision to an entity that is already included on the list.

It’s up to the 15 member states of the Sanctions Committee (which are the same 15 member states of the Security Council) to decide on the requests that they have received. If our request is approved, all UN member states will, among other things, have to freeze the assets of this organization and above all comply with an outright ban on the sale or transfer of arms to it. This measure therefore helps underline the distinction that we want to make between the Syrian National Coalition and the terrorist elements.