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Published on January 26, 2012
Statement by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Spokesman (excerpts)

Paris, January 25, 2012


Egypt/continuation of the democratic transition process

France welcomes the decisions taken by the Egyptian transitional authorities to partially lift the state of emergency and to release 1,959 prisoners sentenced by military courts, including the blogger Maikel Nabil. With Egypt celebrating the first anniversary of the revolution of 25 January, these measures are a step in the right direction since they are likely to encourage the establishment of the rule of law.

France has repeatedly expressed concern regarding the infringement of fundamental freedoms in Egypt, particularly the strengthening of the state of emergency and the large number of civilians tried by military courts.

We also welcome the transfer of legislative power from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to the newly-elected People’s Assembly.

This is a milestone in the democratic transition process, which must be carried through to completion, notably through the complete lifting of the state of emergency.

France stands alongside the Egyptian people in their efforts to achieve their democratic aspirations.

Syria/adoption of new sanctions by the EU Foreign Affairs Council

While the bloody crackdown by the Syrian regime – which has led to the deaths of more than 500 people since the deployment of the Arab League observer mission – continues, and following the rejection by Damascus of the plan to resolve the crisis put forward by the Arab League at the ministerial meeting on Sunday, the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted, on 23 January, further sanctions to increase the pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

These new sanctions target 21 military and security officials involved in the crackdown, a businessman providing support to pro-regime “Shabiha” militia groups, five banks and three oil companies that are financing the regime.

108 individuals and 38 entities are now subject to European sanctions. Syria is also subject to the European embargo on arms and oil imports from its territory.

These sanctions aim to force the Damascus regime to put an end to the crackdown by depriving it of the financial resources that it is using to fund its security apparatus and its private militia groups. They also target the individuals and companies that are directly participating in the crackdown or are providing financial support to the regime, in order to persuade them to distance themselves from Bashar al-Assad, who has lost all legitimacy.

The EU’s message is clear:

- the crackdown must end.

- the Europeans will not yield in the face of the savage crackdown being conducted by the Damascus regime against its people./.

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