As this public debate is the Security Council’s first public meeting of this nature since the terrorist attacks perpetrated in France last week, allow me to say a few words on the subject.
On France’s behalf I want to tell you how overwhelmed and strengthened we were by the massive support given to us from all corners of the world. On France’s behalf I want to thank the United Nations for its exemplary support, through the Security Council statement adopted on 7 January, the minute’s silence observed by the Council, and the commitment of the United Nations Secretary-General, who came to the French mission here in New York to lend us his support, as did the representatives of so many of your countries. These are all exceptional signs of solidarity.
On France’s behalf I’d like to emphasize the historic dimension of the march that took place in my country on 11 January. Four million citizens of all origins took to the streets of my country to combat terrorism and defend the values which are at the heart of what we are, marking the largest gathering since the Liberation of France in 1944. Four million people marched side by side, with world leaders in numbers not seen at such a public march since President Kennedy’s funeral in Washington half a century ago.
Ladies and gentlemen, what an extraordinary message of unity! So it’s a France that stands upright, mobilized and more determined than ever which speaks to you today.
Yes, the march of Paris and all France was the best response to terrorism. Yes, France, which they wanted to bring down, is standing firm. With its friends and allies. On the basis of three principles:
the protection and defence of freedom of expression, and its corollary, press freedom, provided it does not express support for hatred or terrorism;
the affirmation of a response to terrorism combining the greatest firmness – both abroad and within our borders – with strict respect for the fundamental rights without which a democracy goes back on its word. This response targets no religious community: it targets individuals who practise violence or express support for it; we feel solidarity, of course, with all countries hit by terrorism, like Nigeria only recently.
tolerance, which requires an implacable struggle against all forms of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and all forms of discrimination against people. We won’t accept that men, women or children in France can be attacked or killed because they are Jews – as happened at Hyper Cacher last Friday –, because they are Muslims or because they are of other religions or atheists. France protects all citizens, whatever their faith or lack of faith.
The attacks underline how, in an interdependent world, the security of us all is a common good. More than ever, the Middle East’s peace and stability are inseparable from those of Europe. More than ever, France is committed to the future of the Middle East.
The Middle East today is a region of major instability marked by regional rivalries and the scourge of terrorism, with an enormous human cost only partially reflected in the number of deaths, refugees and displaced people. In order to restore its peace and stability in the long term, we must have a single goal: to provide a fair response to the two peoples’ aspirations and maintain the peaceful coexistence of people in a region that has seen sectarianism gaining ground. That’s the aim of the policy which France is seeking to conduct and which it applies to all the current crises. We’ll stay on course with heightened determination, whether it be in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon.
On 30 December 2014, this Council experienced a new failure to relaunch the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Once again, the Council was unable to come together and reach consensus to make progress towards a two-state solution, the only one capable of providing a just response to the two peoples’ aspirations: for the Palestinians, the aspiration to a sovereign, independent state; for the Israelis, a guarantee of lasting security. These two legitimate demands can be met only by making progress towards the solution everyone knows, on the basis of internationally-recognized parameters. The current situation, it must be remembered, is still dangerous, the process is in deadlock, Gaza is being plunged into abject poverty, Israel’s blocking of the rights and taxes which are the Palestinian Authority’s rightful due is threatening the stability of the region, and we call, as a matter of priority, for everything to be done to prevent an escalation; it’s in nobody’s interest.
In this context, France remains determined to work for a change of approach in the peace process, without which we’re convinced the two-state solution will remain a pious hope. This collective effort will require an indisputable foundation, which the Security Council can and must offer by adopting a resolution on the parameters of final status. France will continue its efforts to arrive at a constructive, reasonable, consensual resolution enabling this Council to become a stakeholder fully committed to peace. Beyond that, we continue to think that an international mechanism where the countries of the region have a role to play should help the parties emerge from an impasse that has gone on too long.
In both Iraq and Syria, Daesh has flourished on the basis of governance shortcomings, repression and the marginalization of the Sunni population. Our fight against Daesh must focus on every front (political, military, foreign terrorist fighters, funding), without ever losing sight of the fact that, in Iraq and Syria, any lasting solution can only be political.
In Iraq, the international coalition’s military intervention is aimed at degrading Daesh’s offensive capabilities and supporting the Iraqi forces on the ground. The international community must continue to provide its full support to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has bravely set out on the path to reconciliation and unity. We must encourage him to continue his efforts to bring about recovery and good governance.
In Syria, we’re facing exactly the opposite situation. It’s Bashar al-Assad’s regime, through its brutality and repressive response, which has encouraged the development of Daesh. The fight against terrorism in Syria will never include a deal with a regime responsible for 200,000 deaths. Syria, the majority of whose people have been forced to flee their homes, mustn’t have to choose between the scourges of terrorism and dictatorship. The fight against Daesh is inseparable from a political transition addressing the Syrian people’s legitimate aspirations, on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué. Moreover, the Security Council will have to remain fully mobilized in support of the complete, definitive dismantlement of Syria’s chemical arsenal. The regime’s proven continued use of chlorine gas shows that the international community can’t trust the sincerity of Syria’s commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Finally, given the scale of the violations, we mustn’t overlook the imperative to fight against impunity.
Finally, the situation in Lebanon remains extremely precarious, as we saw once again with the Tripoli terrorist attack on 10 January, which the Council condemned. These events demonstrate how much Lebanon is suffering the direct effects of the crisis in Syria. We must do everything in our power to ensure that the policy of dissociation and the principles of the 2012 Baabda Declaration are respected. At the same time, we’ve got to encourage Lebanese people to elect their president, as a matter of urgency. The continued vacancy at the head of the state is actually depriving Lebanon – which is dealing with an influx of over 1.2 million Syrian refugees on its territory – of its ability to respond effectively to the humanitarian, political, security and economic challenges confronting it.
France is conscious of the seriousness of the situation in the Middle East. It is more determined than ever to get involved as much as necessary to work for a settlement of the conflicts sapping the region. In the face of terrorist blackmail, France reaffirms that it is maintaining a clear course and will fully shoulder its international responsibilities.