Paris, August 22, 2011
Q. – Did French forces take part militarily in the battle for Tripoli?
THE MINISTER – No, of course not. We’re not on the ground; that’s clear; we’ve said so from the outset. We respected the rules set by the Security Council resolution: we intervened with our planes and helicopters. Of course, the NATO operation played a decisive role. Nothing would have been possible if we hadn’t provided our air support.
Q. – How much did our military engagement cost?
THE MINISTER – (…) We can afford to shoulder our responsibilities. We have an ambitious foreign policy. We have a defence capability. When our values, our higher principles are at stake, we must of course make use of those things, and I think it’ll have considerable consequences, particularly for Syria. It’s clear that dictatorial regimes can no longer remain in power against all odds and against their people’s aspirations; that’s true in Africa and it’s true in the Arab world. In a way, I think that’s very good news from the viewpoint of the world’s equilibrium.
Q. – Does that mean France envisages intervening militarily in Syria, where Bashar al-Assad has caused the deaths of so many civilians?
THE MINISTER – No, obviously not, because the situations are different, but we’re going to step up our pressure. We were the first to say the situation in Syria was unacceptable and Bashar al-Assad couldn’t stay in power. Now you see the United States and the whole international community saying the same thing. I said so two months ago; people said I was being a little premature. I don’t think Bashar al-Assad can remain in power, either, because we’re in a new world. Today you can’t go against the people’s aspirations. (…)./.