Official speeches and statements - April 4, 2016
The French President deeply deplores the serious incidents near the ceasefire line in Nagorno-Karabakh, which killed several people, including civilians.
These are the most serious and deadly events since the agreement reached in 1994, when the conflict had already caused 30,000 deaths.
The President calls on the parties to show the utmost restraint and immediate, total and lasting observance of the ceasefire. The absolute priority must be to calm the situation down.
There can be only a negotiated solution. The President, who had a meeting in Paris with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents in October 2014, reaffirms his commitment to a peaceful resolution as soon as possible.
France is concerned about the incidents near the ceasefire line in Nagorno-Karabakh. It deplores the loss of human lives, civilians in particular, which these incidents have already caused. It calls on all the parties to observe the ceasefire.
This conflict, nearly three decades old, can be settled only through negotiation between the parties under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group, which we fully support. France therefore calls for an immediate return to the negotiation table. We shall spare no effort in achieving this goal.
Q. - Is the French position on Syria changing?
THE MINISTER - Our position is that the crisis can’t be overcome without a political solution. The ceasefire, which has generally been observed for the past month, is progress that we’re seeking to protect. It was unhoped-for. Even though new shifts in relative power may be visible with the Russian bombardments, the truce absolutely must be consolidated. But the urgent thing on the ground today is to ensure humanitarian aid gets to all the Syrian people who need it. It’s the regime that is preventing this. We’re constantly pressing for it. Finally, the political process has resumed, under the aegis of the UN Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura. We encouraged the opposition to take part in the talks. It played by the rules in the negotiations.
Q. - And the regime too?
THE MINISTER - No, it didn’t play by the rules.
Q. - What are you expecting of the regime?
THE MINISTER - France expects the Syrian regime to stop bombing civilians and engage, with no ulterior motives, in a political transition process in line with Resolution 2554.
Q. - With or without Assad?
THE MINISTER - Institutions must be kept which are acceptable to the opposition and to a number of regime elements, but ultimately Bashar al-Assad will have to go. At the end of the process, it’s very clear he won’t be able to remain as leader of the country. There will be a lot of points to negotiate - the territorial issue, minorities - so that the country can be rebuilt and the refugees enabled to go back, because the vast majority of them hope to go back.
Q. - Was it a mistake for us to link our diplomacy to Assad’s fate?
THE MINISTER - What counts is the resumption of the political process. Staffan de Mistura is moving ahead step by step, with the aim of ensuring nobody leaves the discussion table. Before August we ought to arrive at an institutional formula enabling elections to be organized. (...)
Q. - The situation is very chaotic in Libya, with three governments and the presence of Daesh [so-called-ISIL]. France says it is supporting the national unity government of Fayez Sarraj, who arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday. Under what terms?
THE MINISTER - I recently met Mr Sarraj in Tunis. He’s a very strong, very brave man. He told me he was determined to go to Tripoli to sort out his security [arrangements] with local forces himself. He wants to be able to assert a legitimacy which is supported by the members of Parliament and recognized by the international community. His decision to go to Tripoli now is encouraging.
Q. - Is France going to help ensure his security?
THE MINISTER - Not just France. Nothing is possible without this legal government recognized by the international community. Libya is a subject of concern shared by all the countries of the region and well beyond. The chaos reigning there today is conducive to the rapid development of terrorism. This poses a direct threat to the region and to Europe. Daesh is retreating in Syria and Iraq, but making progress on the ground in Libya. We’ve got to be prepared to answer the call if Sarraj’s national unity government asks for assistance, including on the military front.
Q. - Answer the call - does that mean being ready for an intervention?
THE MINISTER - That will depend on what the legal government asks us. Imagining that we could launch air strikes outside of any political process isn’t an option. The Algerians, who weren’t in favour of the strikes in 2011, along with the Russians, never waste an opportunity to remind us of the operation in Libya. We must avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and not forget what happened in Iraq. The American intervention under George W. Bush bears a tragic responsibility. It had a profound impact on the region and gave birth to extremism and Daesh. All those who are thinking about solutions, in Syria as much as Libya, know that we mustn’t make these mistakes again. (...).
Q. - You’re back from Bangui. France’s mission in the Central African Republic is coming to an end. Mission accomplished?
THE MINISTER - When Operation Sangaris was decided on, I was in Matignon. The situation was extremely delicate. We shouldered our responsibilities. Massacres had to be prevented. Our intervention enabled us to pacify the situation and create conditions that made the political transition process possible. We’ve come a long way, and France and the European Union played an important role. (...)
I was saddened to learn of the death of Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor from 1974 to 1982 and from 1982 to 1992.
He was one of the main players in reunification, and through his political as much as his human qualities he made an impact on that major period in Europe’s history.
I extend my sincere condolences to his loved ones.
France pays tribute to the memory of a convinced European, a linchpin of Franco-German cooperation and a champion of Germany’s reunification.