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Yemen – Syria - Iran

Published on November 10, 2011
Statements by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, at his joint press conference with Mrs Tawakul Karman, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (excerpts)

Paris, November 7, 2011


THE MINISTER – Mrs Karman is driven by a passionate belief in the battle she’s fighting for freedoms and the young people of her country, Yemen. I assured Mrs Karman that France – as during the Arab Spring – stands alongside those young people, who are fighting for their fundamental freedoms and to build a state governed by the rule of law.

That battle is difficult, as we know, but France will commit herself to ensuring that the current situation – marked again by unacceptable violence and killings – can stop as soon as possible. Of course we supported and voted for UNSCR 2014, which was adopted unanimously and urges the Yemeni authorities to engage swiftly and without delay in the political transition process. This resolution envisages the creation of a commission of inquiry that will indicate what measures to take to combat the crimes that have been committed. I also told Mrs Karman I’m ready to discuss with my European colleagues measures to take to ensure those resolutions are complied with. I also told Mrs Karman our action will be all the more effective because the Yemeni opposition would coordinate and organize itself.

We also spoke about the values we share – values of democracy and the rule of law – and I was happy to hear Mrs Karman cite the great republican principles to which we in France are committed: liberty, equality, fraternity and, in particular, women’s dignity.

In a world where reasons for worry and pessimism are many, it’s heart-warming to meet a person like Mrs Karman.

Q. – What was your reply to Mrs Karman about the freeze on the Yemeni President’s assets and the submission of his dossier to the ICC? And on Syria, the Syrian opposition in the city of Homs has called for international protection; how do you intend to deal with this call?

THE MINISTER – On Mrs Karman’s demands, I’ve already answered in my statement. For us, UNSCR 2014 paves the way for a commission of inquiry, which will establish whether there is reason to prosecute [anyone for] the crimes which may be brought to the international courts; we’re entirely open to that.

Regarding sanctions, I said we’ll discuss it with our European colleagues. We’ve taken successive sanctions against Syria, as you know, and I think the freeze on the Yemeni government’s assets could indeed be examined shortly. We’re going to look at that, because we’re meeting in Brussels next Monday.


On Syria, you’re fully aware of our position. We think that the regime’s behaviour is absolutely unacceptable, that it can’t really be trusted and that in the hours following its acceptance of the Arab League plan it carried out fresh crackdowns and massacres.
We’re taking action on three fronts:

Stepping up our consultation with the countries in the region: the Arab countries and Turkey.

Secondly, strengthening our ties with the Syrian opposition, which is organizing itself and with which we have close relations.

Thirdly, we must continue our action at the Security Council. I myself talked about this in Cannes to certain Security Council members, like Brazil, and of course we heard the appeals made by the Syrian opposition.

So we’ll look at this in close liaison with all our partners on the Security Council. (…)


Q. – Until today, sanctions have brought nothing: Israel is threatening to attack Iran. What can we do?

THE MINISTER – I spoke about this several times yesterday, as well as this morning. You know our position. We believe Iran must abandon the nuclear programme she’s developing, which is very probably for military purposes. We’re awaiting the IAEA’s next report, which will be presented tomorrow. I’ve said everything must be done to prevent a military intervention, which would be irreparable./.

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