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Published on March 21, 2014
Speech by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the Institut du Monde Arabe

Paris, March 19, 2014


The failures include the Syria tragedy, which has entered its fourth year. Let’s show clear-sightedness: there’s no other solution than a political one, because this conflict has become international. The people fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad are Syrians, but there are also a lot of Iranians and Iraqis with Russian weapons; that’s a fact.

The Geneva II conference, convened to find a diplomatic solution, didn’t allow enough progress to be made. I emphasize how responsible the moderate opposition – which we support – was in its stances. We support it because we don’t believe Bashar al-Assad can embody his people’s future. It appears he’s seeking to get re-elected, which would be a tragic masquerade.

But there’s no question, either, of supporting the terrorists. From a political and practical viewpoint, the regime and terrorist groups, which present themselves as hostile to each other, are two sides of the same coin.

We – who are calling for a united, democratic, secular Syria that respects all minorities – support those who share these principles, and we think the moderate opposition, despite all the difficulties and divisions among those supporting them, represents the political solution essential for resolving this conflict. As there’s no question of overlooking the Alawite community, an agreement must be reached between the moderate opposition and certain elements of the regime.

That’s the hope we placed in Geneva II, but for the time being that hope’s been dashed. France was said to be wrong because it had been supporting the moderate opposition for several years and it hadn’t won. But this is a cause that is still just. If France and a few others, including some Arab countries, had been listened to more when we took a position… At the time there were no Iranians, not many Russian weapons and no terrorists in Syria. And everyone said all it would take was a movement for the regime to lose strength. But it was the American election period and there were divisions in the Arab world. The idea, possible at the time, has become much more complex today.

For Syria it’s an alarming tragedy, but it’s also very difficult for neighbouring countries like Jordan, with hundreds of thousands of refugees, Iraq, which isn’t talked about much, and Lebanon. There’s a ray of hope for our Lebanese brothers and sisters, with a government having been formed. This means that a number of powers that lean on Lebanon, sometimes heavily, have eased the pressure. Syrian refugees make up a quarter of the population of that country, which we all love. And we hope Lebanon moves forward, and that’s the purpose of the meeting held in Paris a few days ago.

We’re seeking a ray of hope for Syria, and it’s not certain that the latest Russia-Ukraine events will encourage a more flexible stance by President Putin’s regime.

France always stands alongside those who want peace, like the moderate opposition, which advocates a solution of reconciliation and declares that there are no solutions other than political./.

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