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Syria

Published on January 24, 2014
Excerpts from the interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to I-Télé

Paris, January 24, 2014

(…)

Q. – A word, too, about the conference currently taking place – not very far from you, actually, in Switzerland – on Syria.

THE MINISTER – I was there the day before yesterday at the opening, of course.

Q. – We heard you, moreover, quite furious with your Syrian opposite number. What’s the latest progress? Has there been any, for that matter?

THE MINISTER – There are two parts to it. The first day, there were all the representatives from all the countries – well, from a lot of countries –, and the climate was actually fairly conducive to bringing people together, except when it came to the Syrian Foreign Minister, who for 35 minutes read his speech, which consisted of rantings. To hear him talk, you’d think that Mr Assad wasn’t responsible for anything and that all people against Bashar al-Assad, including babies and women, were terrorists. It’s totally surreal. The opposition’s representative, by contrast, had a very responsible attitude. But that was the first phase.

Today the real discussion begins, between the Syrian opposition on the one side, and the Syrian government’s representatives on the other, and Mr Brahimi, the UN and Arab League representative, in the middle. On the first day things were very tense, but things can’t be otherwise when you see how Bashar al-Assad is behaving.

We just have to hope that there will be two sets of discussions. Firstly, we have to work to build a transitional government with full executive powers. It’s very difficult, but it’s the purpose of the conference. Secondly, humanitarian measures have to be taken, i.e. to create humanitarian corridors, secure ceasefires in various places and allow food and medical supplies through.

So it’s going to be tough. But we’re hopeful; there’s a ray of hope. France says that there’s no solution other than a political one. We just have to succeed in bringing the moderate, responsible opposition and certain elements in the regime closer together, and Bashar obviously doesn’t have a place in the plan. (…)./.

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