Syria – France/Gaza/Israel
Paris, November 17, 2011
Q. – Let’s talk about Syria. You’ve recalled our ambassador. What do you have to say to the Syrian government this morning?
THE MINISTER – Enough is enough! The brutal, savage crackdown, which has been going on for months and months, can’t continue any longer. There have been more than 3,500 deaths and 20,000 people taken prisoner; torture is being carried out, including on young people, even teenagers.
It can’t go on any longer; we’ve been saying so for a long time. First we asked the Syrian regime to carry out reforms; we weren’t listened to and – this is important, it’s a real turning-point in the situation in Syria – the neighbouring countries realized that Bashar al-Assad couldn’t be trusted. The Arab League gave its opinion by suspending Syria from its organization. And yesterday, in Rabat, Bashar al-Assad was given three days to implement the programme he’d accepted, otherwise sanctions will be imposed by the Arab League. I think this turning-point is very important. Turkey has also considerably toughened her position. (…)
Q. – Are you going to officially recognize the Syrian National Council?
THE MINISTER – It must organize itself first. It hasn’t really become a fully-fledged institution yet.
Q. – Is it too early?
THE MINISTER – We were accused of recognizing the National Transitional Council in Libya a little too early. We have contacts with the Syrian National Council. I’ve met Dr Ghalioun – the “President” of this Syrian National Council – in Paris. In any case, we’re helping them, we have contacts with them, and we’re encouraging them to organize themselves. (…)
Q. – You’re preparing a draft resolution at the UN.
THE MINISTER – You’re right, but at the General Assembly.
Q. – What’s in that draft resolution?
THE MINISTER – Well, it’s a draft resolution that demands an end to the crackdown, and a process of reforms. The General Assembly can’t decide on sanctions, but I think if it’s adopted by a large majority this resolution will carry considerable political weight with the regime. (…)
Q. – Let’s talk about what happened in Gaza to the French consular official who was wounded, as were his wife and daughter.
Commentators are saying France took a little while to react.
THE MINISTER – No: we gave an immediate reaction, to the Israeli government.
Q. – Was it Israeli raids that wounded the consular official and his family?
THE MINISTER – Absolutely, it was the Israeli raids. We expressed our condemnation and called for the protection of our representatives in Gaza to be respected. As you know, France has a presence in Gaza and provides the Palestinians with humanitarian and cultural aid.
We’re keen for our representatives in Gaza to be respected, and we said so to the Jerusalem authorities. (…)./.