Friends of the Syrian People conference (Istanbul, 1 April)
The Ministre d’Etat represented France at the second Friends of the Syrian People conference in Istanbul on Sunday, 1 April.
This conference helped broaden the international consensus on ending the crackdown in Syria. It illustrated the steadily growing isolation of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The Istanbul conference reiterated the international community’s condemnation of the atrocities committed by the Syrian regime, which go as far as crimes against humanity.
While reiterating their support for the Arab League initiative and Kofi Annan’s mission, the Friends of the Syrian People stressed that it was important to set a deadline for Bashar al-Assad to implement the six-point plan. They agreed that, should the plan fail, this issue must once again be brought before the Security Council.
To increase international pressure on Damascus, France will host a meeting of the working group on sanctions in the next two weeks.
The Istanbul conference gave new impetus to the process of international support for the Syrian opposition, all of whose components will have to rally around the Syrian National Council. The national pact adopted by the opposition and presented by the SNC was welcomed by the Friends of the Syrian People, which urged all forces fighting for democracy in Syria to align themselves with the SNC.
Finally, in view of the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, the Friends of the Syrian People reaffirmed their support for the UN to coordinate aid to the Syrian people.
The next conference of the Friends of the Syrian People will be held in Paris.
Syria – Situation of the journalist Ali Othman
According to some very troubling reports, the journalist Ali Othman has been arrested, his state of health is worrying and his life is in danger.
France condemns this arrest in the strongest possible terms and calls for Mr Othman’s immediate release.
The Syrian authorities must respect the freedom of the press and the right of journalists to freely exercise their profession.
This arrest demonstrates yet again that the Syrian regime does not respect its commitments. Kofi Annan’s plan, which the Damascus regime claims it has accepted, provides for free, secure access to Syrian territory by the press and international media.
Q. – What is France doing at the Security Council? Are you working on a resolution to allow an armed international or regional intervention to guarantee the country’s integrity and permit the return to constitutional order you have been calling for since the beginning of the crisis?
Right now, the Ministre d’Etat is in Dakar, where he was attending a summit of ECOWAS heads of state, to jointly define the response to the coup d’état and the troubling situation in northern Mali.
I want to remind you that it was on France’s initiative that the UN Security Council condemned the coup d’état, called for the restoration of constitutional order, and reiterated the international community’s commitment to Mali’s unity and territorial integrity.
Given the armed actions in the north of the country, France is calling once again for an immediate halt to these offensives in order to find a political solution, and is warning those launching them of the consequences of their actions.
France supports the efforts of ECOWAS, which appointed President Compaore as mediator, and along with her African partners on the Security Council she will convey ECOWAS’s needs to the Council, so that it can support [ECOWAS’s] actions. (…)./.