A year ago to the day, Syrian citizens gathered at the al-Hariqa souk in Damascus to demand freedom and democracy. The regime responded immediately with violence and with the crackdown.
Daraa, Hama, Homs, Douma, Zabadani, Idlib: these names, and those of many other devastated cities and villages, have now become symbols of the suffering of the Syrian people.
The Syrian people are proving to the world, with admirable courage and determination, that aspirations for dignity and freedom are stronger than oppression.
And yet, a year later, this legitimate fight is far from over. Every day, dozens of men, women and children are murdered. The leaders of the regime must be held accountable for this crime against humanity.
This appalling violence is a sign of weakness. Bashar al-Assad’s regime has lost all legitimacy. He’s trying to ignite inter-faith conflicts and provoke a spiral of violence and an upsurge in extremist movements, which he hopes to exploit to maintain his hold on power. He is a threat to everyone and to peace in the region.
France is mobilized, at the forefront of the nations that are friends of the Syrian people. She has helped to weaken the regime by supporting the implementation of sanctions by the European Union. She actively contributed to the creation of the Friends of the Syrian People group in Tunis on 24 February.
She has argued in favour of the Syrian people in all international forums, whether at the United Nations General Assembly, the Human Rights Council or the Security Council, where, thus far, we’ve been held back by the Russian and Chinese vetoes.
She was the first country to lend support to the Syrian National Council, which is working to bring together around it all the richly varied strands of Syrian society. I welcome the presence this evening of several of its key leaders.
The French people, who know the price of freedom, stand alongside the Syrian people on this first anniversary of the revolution in Syria. They support them and admire them. They share their cause. And they are certain that freedom will prevail./.