Juppé/Turkey visit – Turkey earthquake/French aid – Syria – Liberia/election – Israel/settlements – Gaza raid/French consular official
Paris, November 16, 2011
Ministre d’Etat’s visit to Turkey
The Ministre d’Etat will go to Turkey – Istanbul and Ankara – on 17 and 18 November. There he will have a meeting with the Turkish President and Prime Minister. He will meet the foreign and European affairs ministers. He will also have a meeting with members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Committee in Ankara.
Finally, a meeting is scheduled in Istanbul with His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch.
This visit will allow us to talk about issues relating to the bilateral relationship and take stock, among other things, of our political relations, our joint determination to fight terrorism, and the development of our cultural cooperation. It will also allow us to discuss the relationship between the EU and Turkey. Moreover, with things moving very fast in the Arab world and Middle East over the past few months, this visit will provide the opportunity to review regional and international issues, particularly the Iran nuclear issue.
As regards the serious situation in Syria, the Ministre d’Etat will congratulate his interlocutors on the strong decision just taken by the Turkish authorities to impose sanctions on the Damascus regime. The Ministre d’Etat will reiterate France’s desire to go on working closely with Turkey to increase pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
As Chairman of Galatasaray University’s Haute Comité de Parrainage [sponsorship committee], the Ministre d’Etat will launch, at the Palais de France in Istanbul, the “Galatasaray business club”, which will strive to involve the economic world more closely in the Franco-Turkish university’s development.
Earthquake in Turkey – French humanitarian assistance
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has just sent another plane carrying humanitarian assistance to Turkey, in a spirit of solidarity in response to the Turkish authorities’ request for assistance. This plane, which is carrying a significant quantity of large tents for those left homeless, took off on 15 November from Paris for Erzurum, the logistics centre for Turkish relief supplies.
This is the second shipment of French humanitarian assistance to the region, the first flight having arrived on 27 October. In all, 4,000 people affected by these disasters will have been able to benefit from this assistance.
This shipment follows the new aftershock that occurred on Wednesday, 9 November in Edremit about 15 km from Van (eastern Turkey) and which left 40 people dead. The earthquake on 23 October cost the lives of 604 people. Further tremors have again been registered in recent days.
Situation in Syria
While tens of thousands of political prisoners are being detained in Syrian prisons, many of whom are being tortured, the announcement of the release of about 1,000 prisoners by the Damascus regime does not in any way meet the international community’s expectations.
The recent waves of arrests show that the Syrian regime does not intend to put an end to the bloody crackdown, despite the international community’s demands and the commitments that it made to the Arab League on 2 November. France wishes in particular to express her concern following the disappearance of film-maker Nidal Hassan on 3 November, and calls for his immediate release.
France is more determined than ever to continue her efforts to put an immediate end to the attacks against civilians and the serious human rights violations that are still being committed on a massive scale and result in new casualties every day. There is now broad consensus on the threat to regional security posed by the Syrian regime, as well as on the need for a democratic transition and the departure of Bashar al-Assad.
France reaffirms her full support for the actions undertaken by the Arab League with a view to the swift implementation of a credible observation mechanism on the ground. The involvement of the Arab League and the international community is necessary in order to encourage the Syrian people to keep the opposition movement peaceful.
We continue to demand that the UN commission of inquiry, created on 23 August and put together on 12 September, be allowed to go to Syria. The members of this commission have still not been authorized by the Damascus regime to travel to the area to carry out their mission.
During his meeting this afternoon with Mrs Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Alain Juppé will discuss the situation in Syria, including the deployment of international observers to Syria in order to help protect civilians on the ground.
Liberia – Results of the presidential election
The National Elections Commission has just announced the final results of the second round of voting in the presidential election.
France congratulates Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was re-elected as President of Liberia.
This is the second election since the end of the civil war. It shows that the country is rooted in democracy, but also underlines, as a result of the election violence that took place on the eve of the second round of the ballot, the need to bring the reconciliation process to completion.
We welcome the creation of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the events of 7 November, chaired by a universally respected Liberian nun, Sister Mary Laurene Browne. This is an important decision, as is the launch of a peace and national reconciliation initiative, entrusted to Mrs Leymah Gbowee, co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
We hope that the re-election of Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will mark a new stage in the country’s development and that, under her leadership, Liberia will come together in order to meet the challenges the country is facing.
In this context, we call on all the Liberian political actors to demonstrate responsibility, and, if applicable, to contest the results of the presidential election only through the legal channels established by the constitution, to the exclusion of any other means.
Liberia can count on France’s support.
Israel – Settlement activity
France condemns the Israeli decision to issue, in the near future, new invitations to tender for the construction of 800 homes in the settlements of East Jerusalem, notably in Har Homa – a settlement whose continuous expansion constitutes a threat to the territorial continuity of a future Palestinian state.
France wants to reaffirm that settlement activity is illegal under international law and that it constitutes an obstacle on the path towards a just and lasting peace, which, among other things, means that Jerusalem would become the capital of two sovereign and viable states.
This announcement is yet another provocation, while the international community is continuing its efforts to relaunch the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
That’s why we urge the Israeli government – which has the power to do so – to reverse this decision as well as those taken over the last few weeks.
Gaza Strip raid – Summoning of the Israeli Ambassador
I indicated to you yesterday that we were in contact with the Israeli authorities regarding the Gaza Strip raid during the night of 13 to 14 November.
I want to point out that our ambassador in Tel Aviv has made representations to the Israeli authorities.
This morning, at the Quai d’Orsay, we reaffirmed to the Israeli Ambassador how strongly we deplored the consequences of this raid for the head of our consular branch in Gaza and the members of his family.
We reaffirmed to him that, while we recognize the need for Israel to ensure her security, she must avoid causing any harm to civilians or to the French presence in Gaza./.