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Syria/NATO summit

Published on September 9, 2014
Press conference given by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Newport, September 5, 2014

THE PRESIDENT – We came together for this NATO summit nearly 48 hours ago. The two subjects, which events dictate and responsibility demands that we deal with, are Ukraine and the situation in Iraq and Syria. (…)
I’ll add a word about Syria. This terrorist group [Daech] is in both Iraq and Syria. Moreover, we don’t know where it comes from – whether it comes from Syria or Iraq. Ultimately it has the same intentions. But Syria is a different case.
For France, it’s inconceivable for any action to be taken in coordination with the Bashar al-Assad regime, because there can’t be a choice between a dictatorship of terror and a terror that wants to impose its dictatorship.
So we’ll look at what we can do and what we’ve already done, because for us there’s a force that exists, namely the democratic opposition in Syria, and a free army that must be supported. (…)

Q. – At this summit, the United States called for an international coalition against Islamic State. You’ve just told us France will shoulder its responsibilities. Does that mean France will be part of this coalition? And if so, in what way? With what means? Will there be, for example, French airstrikes in Iraq and Syria – even if it’s not in coordination with Bashar al-Assad – or even troops on the ground?

THE PRESIDENT – (…) On Syria, we’re not involved because we don’t have sufficiently clear evidence of whether what we will or could do might benefit Bashar al-Assad.

That doesn’t prevent us from acting, because we’ve already acted by helping the Free Syrian Army. But there too, it will require other conditions, because the international law situations aren’t the same.
In one case – Iraq – what we regard as Iraq’s legitimate authorities are calling on us; in the other, who would be calling on us? (…)./.

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