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Published on May 13, 2011
Reply by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to a question in the Senate

Paris, May 12, 2011

Your question gives me a chance to solemnly reaffirm that France has no double standards when it comes to peoples’ aspiration to freedom, respect for human rights and the march towards democracy.

That’s why we’ve said very clearly that the crackdown in Syria is intolerable and mustn’t be accepted. We began by calling on the Syrian authorities to take the people’s aspirations into account and commit themselves to an ambitious programme of reforms.

Our calls went unheeded and the Syrian government opted, on the contrary, for a savage crackdown. The death toll stands at several hundred. Today, tanks were used against public demonstrations, and that’s unacceptable. We don’t make do with condemning: we’ve done everything to act – first of all, at the supreme body that decides on peace or war at the global level, namely the Security Council. With our British friends, we’ve prepared a draft resolution condemning the crackdown in Syria. Today, the conditions don’t exist for this resolution to be passed. And there are at least three reasons for this.

Firstly, because two permanent members have made it known that they’ll oppose it; secondly, because the Arab countries haven’t committed themselves regarding Syria as they did for the vote on UNSCR 1973 [on Libya]; thirdly, because a majority of the nine votes necessary for passing a resolution doesn’t currently exist.

We won’t give up; we’re continuing to work at the Security Council. Only recently – yesterday – I contacted my Brazilian and South African counterparts to persuade them to help us in this task.

We’ve also acted at the United Nations Human Rights Council level, firstly by securing a condemnation of Syria by that Human Rights Council and the dispatch of a mission of inquiry to Syria, and secondly by taking the initiative to prevent the danger facing us, namely that Syria might be elected to that Council.

I’m delighted that Kuwait has today presented her candidature and that Syria can therefore be ruled out.

Finally, in view of the difficulty of achieving results in New York, we’ve acted at European level, and I can’t let it be said that Europe’s done nothing. We’ve taken decisions this week: first of all, an embargo on weapons bound for Syria; secondly, reviewing our cooperation policy with Syria so as to retain only those programmes that can be of benefit to the population; and furthermore, drawing up a list of 13 Syrian figures who’ll face travel bans or a freeze on their financial assets.

We would have liked President Bashar al-Assad to feature on that list. Our partners believed that it was premature and that we must take our time. We won’t give up trying to achieve this result.

That’s what we’ve done. We’re continuing our work of persuasion. I don’t think anyone can say French diplomacy, under the impetus of President Sarkozy, hasn’t been consistent and determined in this field./.

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