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21st Ambassadors’ Conference

Published on August 28, 2013
Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Paris, August 27, 2013


As I speak to you, the world is horrified at the revelation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Everything leads us to believe that it was the regime that committed this despicable act, which condemns it once and for all in the eyes of the world. Indeed, using weapons that the Community of Nations banned 90 years ago in all of its international agreements is shameful.

Need I remind you that this conflict has already left more than 100,000 dead? And that it is now spreading throughout the region, with attacks in Lebanon, the flow of refugees into Jordan and Turkey, and the unleashing of deadly violence in Iraq? This civil war is now threatening world peace.

During the past year, France has acted. It led the effort to hold the Friends of Syria conference that took place in Paris in July 2012. Last September, it was the first to recognize the [Syrian] National Coalition as legitimate representative of the Syrian people. And it promptly provided humanitarian and material assistance to the opposition so that it could carry on with its fight.

Today, it is our responsibility to seek the most appropriate response to the Syrian regime’s atrocities, once the major part of the United Nations investigation has been completed.

The chemical massacre in Damascus cannot remain without a response. The international community cannot fail to react to the use of chemical weapons. France stands ready to punish those who took the appalling decision to gas innocent people.

In recent days, I have held numerous consultations with our – particularly American and European – allies, as well as our Arab partners, to consider all the options. Tomorrow I shall be holding a Defence Council meeting, and Parliament will be informed of the situation as soon as possible.

Furthermore, I have decided to increase our military support for the Syrian National Coalition, while upholding our European commitments.

Only through this firmness will we see a political solution prevail one day in Syria. (…)./.

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