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Meeting of G8 foreign ministers

Published on April 12, 2012
Press briefing given by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (excerpts)

Paris, April 12, 2012

(…)

THE MINISTER – Mr Kofi Annan, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General and the Arab League, presented a six-point plan.

The Damascus regime and the opposition accepted the plan in principle. I note that, to date, the regime has not fulfilled its commitments. (…) Incidents have occurred at the Turkish border. Just now you heard a point about the spectacular increase in the number of refugees trying to cross the border. In short, the situation is constantly deteriorating, and the date set for the ceasefire, 10 April, has not been respected. (…)

Tomorrow we’re going to see what Kofi Annan says to the Security Council. What France would like – if Kofi Annan believes he’s in a position to continue his mission – is for the Security Council to be able to adopt, as soon as possible, a resolution enabling the dispatch of a robust observer mission that can have freedom of movement, without depending on the Damascus regime, to check whether the commitments made by the parties – essentially the regime, because it is primarily responsible for the crackdown – are actually being honoured. That’s the stage we’re at, and tomorrow will be absolutely decisive from that point of view.

Q. – And what if Damascus doesn’t start implementing the plan of…

THE MINISTER – That’s the other possibility. If Kofi Annan believes he’s no longer in a position to continue his mission, France thinks the Security Council will have to consider other measures. Always in the “optimistic” event of Kofi Annan telling us things are making progress, I repeat: this observation mechanism on the ground seems to us essential. Following a meeting with Sergei Lavrov, I note that we agree on this point, which is in itself very positive.

Q. – Does that mean there’s more chance of a resolution being adopted by the Security Council than a while ago?

THE MINISTER – A resolution establishing the monitoring mechanism for Kofi Annan’s plan and addressing the humanitarian issue should be able to be adopted very quickly. The United Nations would then have to be able to send a mission to Syria within a very short time. (…)

Q. – Were you able to have a private meeting with Sergei Lavrov?

THE MINISTER – Yes. I had a meeting with him, mainly on Syria.

France believes that you can’t put on the same level a regime with its policy of repression, [a regime] which has been totally stubborn in refusing reforms, and the resistance of people who are trying to defend themselves. We mustn’t forget that if the regime had agreed to take on board its people’s aspirations for freedom and reforms, we wouldn’t be at this point. Let me also remind you that the demonstrations in Syria began peacefully. Today, the Syrian opposition is acting in self-defence.

I don’t for one moment believe these terrorist attacks we’re being told about; we have a different assessment of that. On the other hand, we agree on supporting Kofi Annan’s mission. We support his six-point plan, which also includes a political process with free elections allowing the Syrian people to choose their destiny. And we also agree that if the ceasefire is indeed respected, we’ll have to be able to verify it on the ground by sending a United Nations mission.

Perhaps we’ll see an opportunity or a window open up. (…)./.

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