Official speeches and statements - May 27, 2021
We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union condemn in the strongest terms the unprecedented action by the Belarusian authorities in arresting independent journalist, Raman Pratasevich and his companion, Sofia Sopega, after forcing flight FR4978 on which they were travelling to land in Minsk on 23 May.
This action jeopardised the safety of the passengers and crew of the flight. It was also a serious attack on the rules governing civil aviation. All our countries, and our citizens, depend on every state acting responsibly in fulfilling their duties under the Chicago Convention so that civil aircraft can operate safely and securely. We call on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to urgently address this challenge to its rules and standards.
This action also represents a serious attack on media freedom. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Raman Pratasevich, as well as all other journalists and political prisoners held in Belarus.
We will enhance our efforts, including through further sanctions as appropriate, to promote accountability for the actions of the Belarusian authorities.
2. United Nations - Syria (political and humanitarian situation) - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations, at the Security council (New York - May 26, 2021)
[translation from French]
I thank Geir Pedersen and Mark Lowcock for their briefings.
Today’s presidential elections in Syria are taking place in a country torn apart by a decade of war. Hostilities continue on a daily basis and chronic instability has set in due to the lack of political reforms. This spiral of violence can only fuel the despair of millions of Syrians, which Daesh seeks to become the receptacle for.
France has repeatedly stated its readiness to support the holding of free and fair elections in Syria, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254 and under the supervision of the United Nations, in which all Syrians, including those of the diaspora, could participate. Today’s election clearly does not meet the criteria of a credible election. This election is therefore, for us, null and void. It will not contribute to restoring any kind of political legitimacy to the Syrian regime. It will not promote a way out of the crisis in Syria.
We must stop using humanitarian aid as a political instrument.
As you know, 92% of the funding announced for 2021 at the Brussels V conference comes from the European Union and its member states, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Norway.
The cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism has never been more relevant, both in the North-West and in the North-East. A 12-month renewal, as requested by the Secretary-General, is essential.
In the North-West, the number of people requiring assistance has now reached 3.4 million, an increase of 20% since last year. There is no alternative to the cross-border mechanism, which allows the delivery of approximately 1,000 aid trucks per month.
In the North-East, 1.8 million people need humanitarian aid, 38% more than in 2020. The crossline convoys, subject to the Syrian regime’s goodwill, have never been able to make up for the closing of the al Yaroubiyah crossing point. As long as the regime continues to blackmail aid to punish the population, it is clear that crossline aid from Damascus cannot be the only viable option.
This Council must therefore draw the conclusions and authorize the use of three crossing points: Bab al Hawa and Bab al Salam in the North-West and al Yaroubiyah in the North-East. We have a collective responsibility and a moral duty to save lives, to counter the risk of famine, and to facilitate vaccination campaigns against COVID-19. Without a robust cross-border aid mechanism, it will not be possible to channel aid independently and without regime interference as well as to achieve our collective goals.
We can never say it enough: international humanitarian law must be respected by all: not only full humanitarian access, but also the protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical personnel.
The root causes of this war must be addressed if we want to put an end to it.
It is high time for the Syrian regime to finally engage in good faith in the UN-led political process. More than a year and a half after the establishment of the constitutional committee, the drafting of a constitutional reform has still not started.
We also call for swift and concrete progress in the implementation of all other elements of Resolution 2254. Without this, the suffering of the Syrian people will continue to increase.
This includes the establishment of a nationwide, durable and verifiable cessation of hostilities under UN supervision.
It also requires progress toward the holding of free and transparent elections in accordance with the provisions of Resolution 2254.
It also requires progress on the issues related to detainees in the hands of the regime and disappeared persons, which all Syrians are calling for.
We urgently call on the Special Envoy to make progress on all these aspects in parallel with his work on the constitutional committee.
For its part, France will continue its tireless fight against impunity for crimes committed in Syria.
Without a credible political settlement, France and its partners will remain constant in their position on reconstruction, normalization and sanctions. Exploiting sanctions to mask the responsibility of the regime fools no one. European sanctions are targeted: they target individuals and entities participating in repression and benefiting from the fallout of the conflict. They include strong measures to preserve the delivery of humanitarian and medical aid.
It is in our common interests to set aside our differences and work together for a credible political settlement, which is the only way to put an end to this tragedy.