Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, May 23, 2013)

Niger – Terrorist attacks
Iran – Nuclear issue
Conference of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People (May 22)
Lebanon - Hezbollah

Niger – Terrorist attacks

France utterly condemns this morning’s attacks which targeted the Nigerien army in Agadez and a mining site operated by Areva in Arlit.

It’s still too early to know the final toll from these attacks. Our thoughts go out to the victims. France extends its condolences to the families of those who died.

Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, is in contact with his Nigerien counterpart in order to express to him France’s wholehearted solidarity with the Nigerien authorities in the fight against terrorist groups. He will assure him that we are ready to provide them with any assistance they may need.

France is closely monitoring the situation in close collaboration with the Nigerien authorities.
We urge French citizens in Niger to follow the safety precautions provided to them.

What information do you have on the attack against the Areva site in Niger? What arrangements are in place to protect the site?

In your view, do these attacks fall within the context of the French intervention in Mali? Are you concerned about the destabilization of Niger?

Please refer to the statement we have just made.


Iran – Nuclear issue

The IAEA Director General’s most recent report shows that Iran is continuing to give priority to the path of defiance and denial over that of dialogue. Once again, this is a choice that we deplore.

Indeed, this report confirms that Iran has continued to step up its nuclear activities, in violation of numerous resolutions of the Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors. Iran is notably increasing its uranium enrichment capacities and is making progress toward the construction of a heavy water reactor capable of producing plutonium.

In spite of the international community’s demands, Iran has, for 18 months now, refused to engage in substantive discussions with the IAEA on the problems arising from its nuclear program.

Despite its assertions, Iran is still failing to provide any evidence to support the civilian nature of its nuclear program. This attitude is in direct contrast to the restoration of trust mentioned by the Iranian authorities at the E3+3 meeting in Almaty on February 27.

In the next few days we will discuss with our partners on the IAEA Board of Governors the response to this information. It should allow us to bring more diplomatic pressure to bear on Iran, commensurate with the progress on its nuclear program.


Conference of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People (May 22)

Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, participated yesterday in the meeting of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People in Amman. The aim of this meeting was to prepare for the next conference in Geneva which should bring together the Syrian opposition and representatives of the regime in order to form by mutual consent a transitional government with full executive powers.

The discussions allowed us to make progress on several points, notably with respect to the participants, agenda and timetable. The states present in Amman reaffirmed in particular that Bashar al-Assad and the members of the regime with blood on their hands had no place in the discussions aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis. Mr. Laurent Fabius also indicated that in France’s view Iran’s participation in this conference wasn’t desirable given its “hostile attitude toward the Syrian people.”

In order to reach a political solution in Syria, the minister of foreign affairs reaffirmed France’s full support for the Syrian National Council, which is meeting as from today in Istanbul with the aim of strengthening its cohesion and organization in order to assume its full role in the next conference in Geneva.


Lebanon - Hezbollah

The minister stated yesterday evening that France wanted the military branch of Hezbollah to be included on the EU list of terrorist groups.

What’s the reason for clarifying this position?

Aren’t you concerned that this could destabilize Lebanon?

Can you reaffirm the procedure and the next steps at the EU?

Do you think that a decision could now be taken by the end of June?

I would like to reaffirm the minister of foreign affairs’ comments on this issue yesterday, “France’s position is that the military branch of Hezbollah should be included on the list […]. You’ve seen that not only is Hezbollah heavily involved in Syria but that it has declared its commitment. Since there are in addition other elements concerning events in Bulgaria and Cyprus, we believe that this is something that should be agreed upon by all Europeans.

Regarding the second question, France is attached to Lebanon’s stability and its relations with all Lebanese communities. We urge all Lebanese parties to uphold the commitments made in the Baabda Declaration of June 15, 2012, aimed at disassociating Lebanon from the war in Syria. By intervening on a massive scale in Syria, Hezbollah departs from this consensus. Syria’s war is not Lebanon’s war. Importing it to Lebanon jeopardizes its stability, as shown by the increased tensions in the country.

The implementation procedure is standard. The discussion first of all takes place within the framework of the Council’s relevant technical groups on the basis of proposals from one or several member states. The decision then rests with the Council, at the level of the foreign ministers. In this respect, the decisions must be taken unanimously. A decision could be adopted by the end of June, but that will depend on whether a consensus on this proposal is reached in Brussels.