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Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius to France 2

Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius to France 2

Published on November 26, 2014
Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to France 2 (excerpts)

Paris, December 4, 2014

Fight against Terrorism – Iraq – Syria

Regarding the Middle East, the Iranians have reportedly carried out bombing raids against the Islamic State in Iraq; is this a turning point?

There were reports to that effect yesterday, but it hasn’t been confirmed. We are talking with the Iraqi prime minister who was received here yesterday evening by President Hollande; it hasn’t been confirmed. In any case, the Iranians stated from the outset that they reserved the right to take action if there was any threat in the Baghdad or Erbil regions, since they share a border with Iraq.

Can the Iranians join the coalition?

No, that’s different. We’ve always said that the coalition is something very special. Around 60 members of the coalition met yesterday in Brussels. The Iranians are acting independently and in a different way, but it’s clear that whether we’re talking about the coalition or the Iranians, we’re opposed to the terrorist movement Daesh, which is extremely dangerous and is trying to take control of Iraq and Syria.

Will the air strikes be enough?

No, they’re not enough; they are necessary. We need powerful means to combat the Daesh terrorists, but we need people on the ground, but on the ground, …

There are the Syrians on the ground…

It’s the Iraqis.

As well as the Syrians…

No, Syria is another matter.

Bashar al-Assad is saying, “the strikes are useless, and it’s me that’s doing the work on the ground…”

No, that’s not true! These are two different countries: Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, the work on the ground is being done by Iraqi soldiers. And for that the Iraqi government needs to be an inclusive government that brings everyone together; it’s making very positive gestures in this direction and we support it. The Iraqi army has regained ground from Daesh. In Syria, it’s completely different.

John Kerry said that it would be a long process…

Yes, probably very long.

In Syria, it’s another matter. There’s Daesh, i.e. the terrorists which unfortunately have a strong presence there, and then there’s Bashar al-Assad. I saw that he gave an interview to Match; I think that he simply forgets to say that under his presidency more than 200,000 people have died.

He disputes this figure.

That’s absurd, unfortunately.

So there can never be any agreement with Bashar al-Assad with respect to combating the Islamic State?

We want a political solution. Military efforts are of course needed, but we want a political solution. This political solution must bring together - based on the so-called Geneva 1 agreement – elements of the regime – but not Bashar al-Assad, since it’s hard to imagine how someone who has caused the death of 200,000 people can lead his country on a long term basis – and of course, the democratic and moderate opposition. We are continuing to work toward this with all international leaders. (…)./.

Middle East/peace process/recognition of the State of Palestine


Q. – The French Parliament has passed a resolution asking for the Palestinian State to be recognized. Is France going to do that?

THE MINISTER – I’ve set out our position. The National Assembly has voted, the Senate is going to vote soon, but the position of the executive, the President and the government is as follows.

Recognition of Palestine is a right, not a privilege; it’s a right which already exists, which has been recognized since 1948. When you read the United Nations resolution of 1948, it already says: “a State of Palestine, a State of Israel”. The problem is that there’s been no progress since 1948: Israel is a recognized state – and that’s very good – but not yet Palestine.

So the issue is about practicalities and timing. On behalf of the government I’ve said, firstly, that there should be a United Nations resolution clearly setting out the parameters. Secondly, I’ve said there must be international support for all this. Negotiations take place periodically but never reach a conclusion, so there must be international pressure. Thirdly, I’ve said there must be a deadline. If, for example, there’s been insufficient progress in two years, then there could be, there would be unilateral recognition.

Q. – By France?

THE MINISTER – Yes, the aim is clear: Israel as a state, Palestine as a state, both in security, neighbours, democratic, and a guarantee of movement towards peace. The goal is peace. (…)./.

Climate disruption


Q. – What are you expecting from the Lima Climate Conference?

THE MINISTER – Three watchwords: urgency, ambition, hope.

The urgency is the issue of climate disruption. Scientists and everyday observation show that there’s increasingly serious climate disruption due to what are known as greenhouse gases. If we don’t reverse the trend, it’s going to be extremely serious, i.e. increasing hot weather…

Q. – Is it possible [to reverse the trend]?

THE MINISTER – It’s possible, provided that greenhouse gases are limited, and this is a matter of urgency; it can’t wait 50 years. Once greenhouse gases are in the atmosphere you can’t get them back, they accumulate. This means that sea levels rise, it’s incredibly hot, there are climate extremes, it’s very difficult to feed ourselves, there’s migration and insecurity. So it’s a matter of the utmost urgency!

The second watchword is ambition. In Lima this year, and above all in Paris next year, the goal is to reach a global agreement, 195 countries saying what we’re going to do to prevent this temperature rise, with practical measures in the various industries etc.

The third watchword is hope. Until now, there have generally been failures. You may remember Copenhagen… Here, there’s a different trend – China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, have committed themselves. Europe has made a commitment. In France, there’s the energy transition act. So we’re hoping that in Paris, where the biggest diplomatic conference ever organized by France will be held, we’re heading for success; we hope so, we’re working on it. It’s very difficult but I’m making every effort to succeed. (…)./.

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