Q. – Is there any progress with respect to Turkey’s proposal for an international conference?
What is the substance of the meetings between M. Juppé and his Turkish counterpart? Does this mean that relations between France and Turkey are no longer frozen?
THE SPOKESMAN – The situation on the ground in Syria is appalling. The carnage in the city of Homs continues. The Syrian people’s suffering is continuing and intensifying; the reports we’re receiving about the situation in Homs are horrendous.
In this context, in which violence competes with horror, providing assistance to the Syrian people is now a priority for French diplomacy.
President Sarkozy, M. Alain Juppé, our entire diplomatic network are now mobilized and taking initiatives. M. Alain Juppé has had numerous discussions with many of his counterparts in recent days, and he will continue to do so. He is due to meet his Russian counterpart, Mr Sergei Lavrov, in Vienna next week. He will also see his Dutch counterpart here in Paris.
So we’re mobilized on several fronts:
The first thing we’re doing is taking on board the consequences for us as a result of the deadlock observed at the Security Council a few days ago. After that, the first task of all French authorities and the entire French diplomatic network is to step up contacts with everyone.
We aren’t throwing in the towel.
Secondly, together with our European partners, we’re working to speed things up in order for more and tougher European sanctions to be swiftly adopted against the Damascus regime.
Our third line of action relates to the continuous contact we’re maintaining with the Syrian opposition, always in the same spirit aimed at showing our support for them and encouraging them to continue their efforts to rally people together and promote unity. The Syrian opposition is making progress towards this, which is all the more crucial given that the situation on the ground is deteriorating day after day.
Fourthly, our action will focus on supporting the Arab League’s mobilization. The Arab League has for a long time played a truly remarkable role in this matter. They denounced what was happening in Syria, they sent an observer mission, they referred the matter to the Security Council and specifically requested the Security Council to intervene. The Arab League continues to be mobilized and we support this mobilization by the Arab countries. In the next few days it will lead to an important meeting in Cairo which has been scheduled to coincide with a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting.
What is the purpose of this mobilization by the Arab countries? It’s aimed at advancing the plan that the Arab League proposed to the Security Council. I reiterate the main elements of this plan: an end to the violence, the Syrian army’s return to barracks and the release of political prisoners.
This is the spirit in which we’re working. Proposals have been made, ideas are circulating, we’re working on plans to establish a group of friends of Syria. Consultations are under way, coordination efforts are continuing; the next stage will be based on the outcome of the Arab League meeting. In this spirit and in this context, we support all the efforts, all the initiatives of all those who want to mobilize themselves to work collectively and responsibly towards this.
Finally, something else we’re working on: the humanitarian situation.
The humanitarian situation in Homs is appalling; in this respect we will assess the situation based on the reports we get from our ambassador in Syria, who has been recalled for consultations and is due to arrive here in the next few hours. (…)./.