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Syria

Published on September 12, 2013
Excerpts from the reply given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Prime Minister, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, September 11, 2013

You’re right: France has shown the greatest determination. That was the case last week during the debate on the situation in Syria in this chamber; I also thank the deputies from the majority for understanding that it was necessary – after what the United Nations Secretary-General called a crime against humanity – to say clearly to Bashar al-Assad’s regime that the use of chemical weapons, which has killed nearly 1,500 people, must arouse the clearest and firmest response.

It was France that took the initiative of being firm to the very end. It is to France’s credit that it held firm, began to make the Syrian regime retreat and to make the international community aware of the need to be mobilized.

On this subject, all the nation’s elected representatives should come together. (…)

On the Syria issue, France has always promoted a political solution. In St Petersburg, when people were saying France was isolated, France brought together a majority of G20 members to condemn Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the use of chemical weapons.

François Hollande showed patience, persuasiveness, clarity and determination. The following day, in Vilnius, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also managed to secure a declaration to the same effect from all the Europeans. Do you think all this was pointless? It got things moving.

Today, the threat from France is the following: if necessary, we will intervene with a coalition to take strong deterrent action, so that international law is respected and the proliferation of chemical and nuclear weapons isn’t the daily norm. France enabled things to move on the diplomatic front. Yes, on the diplomatic front!

As regards the Russian proposal, which consists in drawing up an inventory of chemical weapons, I would remind you that only a few days ago Mr Assad was denying that he had such weapons. Today, no one can deny – not least him – that the country has the largest chemical arsenal in the world: 1,000 tonnes!

Moreover, the Russians propose controlling and dismantling: we took them at their word. Yesterday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius held a press conference; France has taken an initiative in the framework of the United Nations Security Council.

We want concrete action. The concrete action we want is an inventory of the arsenal, its verification and destruction. This is what we’re expecting from the Security Council! We’ll then see how sincere the different people are (…).

Finally, you talked about the more than two million refugees in the region in particular. The situation is terrible. France has already shouldered its responsibilities and begun taking in refugees: 95% of those who meet the requirements have been taken in. We are fully cooperating with the UNHCR./.

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