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Afghanistan/Syria/Iran

Published on November 16, 2011
Foreign Affairs Council – Press conference given by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (excerpts)

Brussels, November 14, 2011

AFGHANISTAN

Today we examined first of all the situation in Afghanistan. The meeting in Istanbul was encouraging and, among other things, made it possible to launch the Istanbul Process regarding collective security. We’re also currently preparing the Bonn conference. We all expressed our determination to support Afghanistan beyond 2014 by putting long-term cooperation in place. France has already prepared a cooperation treaty with Afghanistan which we intend to sign by the end of the year.

SYRIA

We then talked about Syria. An important event has occurred in recent days, with the position of the Arab League, which has suspended Syria. We were the first to say the regime has lost its legitimacy and is today enveloping itself in a kind of paranoia, because it’s accusing the Arab League of organizing a plot against it. We must work in three directions:

- firstly, strengthen our relations with the Syrian opposition – the Syrian National Council – to help it organize itself;

- secondly, coordinate with all the states in the region and the Arab League. I’m in frequent contact with the organization’s Secretary General, but also with Turkey, who plays an important role in the region;

- lastly, to work at the United Nations, both at the General Assembly, where we’ve circulated a text, and at the Security Council, in agreement with the Arab League. We hope Russia and China, who are increasingly isolated, will evolve on this issue. It so happens that my South African counterpart and I were talking about this barely three days ago.

IRAN

Finally, we talked about Iran. It’s clear that the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency highlights Iran’s progression in her plan to design and put into effect a nuclear weapon. It’s a major challenge to the world’s stability; a military intervention would be the worst-case scenario and would drag us into an uncontrollable downward spiral.

Of course we’re always ready for dialogue, but we can see Iran is showing no goodwill. So we’re going to step up European sanctions against her. I’m very well aware of the criticisms made of the sanctions: that they’re not always effective or that they weigh too heavily on the civilian population; that’s true, but they’re the weapon we have today and we’re going to reinforce it and apply it with great determination. (…)./.

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