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Published on August 27, 2013
Excerpts from the interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Europe 1

Paris, August 26, 2013



Q. – Can you confirm that, in Syria, the time for reacting with force is imminent?

THE MINISTER – The decision hasn’t yet been taken. What now seems clear, with a whole series of converging testimonies, is what I’ve called
“the chemical massacre”. What seems clear, too, is that behind it…

Q. – But what makes you certain, convinced?

THE MINISTER – A whole series of testimonies that we’ve got and that other partners worldwide have got. What’s clear too is that Bashar al-Assad’s regime was behind this massacre. So we must now make the reactions proportionate, weigh things up and act with both determination and sangfroid, and this is what’s going to be decided over the next few days.

Q. – Hasn’t it already been decided?


Q. – If there’s a coalition, does France belong to this anti-Bashar coalition?

THE MINISTER – Listen, the President has given his view, he said it was an unspeakable act; I myself said that there had to be a strong response, and with that as a starting point we’re going to decide what has to be done. (…)

Q. – So what are we doing? Are we moving to another phase? Has the military option been chosen?

THE MINISTER – The options are open; the only option I don’t envisage is doing nothing.

Q. – Doing nothing, the military option – are there various degrees [between them]?


Q. – So in the next few days, will you be waiting for the UN investigators over there to do their investigations first?

THE MINISTER – Well, the UN investigators are over there today, probably under very restricted conditions. The problem is that they’re late being there since the attack took place five days ago now, and in the meantime there’s been bombing, and therefore a whole series of signs can disappear, and moreover it must be clearly understood that they aren’t tasked with seeing who is behind the attack, so that is what’s worrying. (…)

Q. – Bashar al-Assad is speaking this morning; he regards the West’s accusations as nonsense. Are you certain that it was him?

THE MINISTER – Personally, yes.

Q. – Is France, if it’s in this coalition, going to deploy military capabilities, like the United States?

THE MINISTER – I won’t go into any more detail in my answers.

Q. – You aren’t ruling it out?

THE MINISTER – A chemical massacre has been proven, there’s Mr Bashar al-Assad’s responsibility; there has to be a reaction, we’ve reached that point.

Q. – Meaning that there will be an appropriate response to it?

THE MINISTER – That’s right.

Q. – Proportionate?

THE MINISTER – That’s right. (…)

Q. – In other words, there’s a duty of intervention today, to protect the civilians…

THE MINISTER – There’s a duty to react, because we must be clear about what chemical weapons are: they’re something banned by all countries. Russia – which we’re talking about –, China and Iran have themselves signed the prohibition treaty. We’re talking about absolute horror. The children you see apparently sleeping like that are asleep forever because they’ve been killed, and it’s [by] Mr Bashar al-Assad. So it’s intolerable. (…)

Q. – Can the United Nations’ refusal to intervene be ignored or bypassed?

THE MINISTER – That’s a very difficult problem: international law is defined by the United Nations, and at the same time – you were talking about it on your radio station earlier – there are countries that obstruct things; in this case, we know China and Russia have already obstructed and probably would obstruct things, so a real problem is raised.

Q. – But can it be bypassed?

THE MINISTER – Under certain circumstances, but you have to be very careful, of course, because international law does exist. (…)


Q. – Egypt: for Egypt, Europe and France are recommending a political solution and therefore elections. Can there be elections without Muhammad Mursi first being released?

THE MINISTER – We would of course like the political prisoners to be released, but there must be open elections and – you can think about what’s happened; we’ve spoken out strongly – there are two lessons to be learnt. The first is that Mr Mursi was properly elected, but as soon as he sought a fast-track “Islamization” of society and there was total economic failure, the population rose up. (…) And now there must be movement towards a civilian process, clearly.

Q. – For you, who holds legitimacy in Egypt today? Mursi or General Al-Sisi?

THE MINISTER – That’s why elections must be held: because when there’s a conflict of legitimacy, the only way to decide is elections.

Q. – And can Mursi be a candidate again?

THE MINISTER – Listen, there must first be a general election; it should be open – inclusive, as they say. (…)./.

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