Official speeches and statements - August 3, 2016
1. Syria - Situation in Aleppo - Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to France Info (Nairobi - August 1, 2016)
THE MINISTER - The current result of the military solution is an ever-increasing number of civilian victims. Now it’s the siege of Aleppo, with the risk of a humanitarian disaster.
Q. - Are you very worried about the siege of Aleppo?
THE MINISTER - Yes, I’m very worried. It’s clear that the negotiations, under the auspices of Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations Special Envoy, can’t resume if there are so many ongoing human tragedies, particularly in Aleppo. If the Russians - who have the means to put pressure on the Damascus regime and who, with the Americans, co-chair the [International] Syria Support Group; that’s why I’ve written to them both - really want the peace process to resume, they must shoulder their responsibilities on Aleppo and not make do with half-measures, because the humanitarian corridors are something of a trap for those poor inhabitants of Aleppo, who then leave, and then remain stuck at the Turkish border.
Once again we’re witnessing a major humanitarian disaster that is also hindering the resumption of the political process, which has now been suspended. The Geneva meeting must be held. And you can see the delay there has been: 1 August was the date when the interim authorities should have been put in place; we’re a long way from that, but even so, we mustn’t lose sight of this goal.
This goal is essential, and conditions must be created to this end. The conditions are, firstly, a signal that the parties around the table are in good faith and that sufficient pressure is being put on Bashar al-Assad’s regime to ensure, of course, that the planes stop firing and the barrel bombs stop falling on Aleppo. It’s essential, otherwise there will be no trust. And the moderate opposition is ready to return to the negotiating table—that’s been confirmed—with concrete proposals that are realistic and pragmatic. It’s about getting back to a political process, a peace process. It’s not all or nothing, but it’s not possible if people continue being bombed. With the bombing, hundreds of thousands of people will again be forced to flee. So that’s even more refugees than are already massed in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan or have already fled to Europe.
Q. - Is there a real desire to achieve an outcome on the part of Washington and Moscow?
THE MINISTER - What I’ve told them both—and this was also the purpose of my letter, which is why I’ve made it public—is to negotiate and do the maximum to recreate the conditions for a peace process. But in order to achieve that, you can’t close your eyes to Aleppo, where there are still 200,000 to 300,000 people in appalling conditions. So you don’t achieve a political agreement by saying: "that’s it, the peace process has restarted, and we’ve closed our eyes to a tragic humanitarian situation."
I also think that, if it were like that, not only would it be morally and politically unacceptable, it would also be ineffective, because the moderate opposition would see it as a pretext not to come to the negotiating table, at a time when the peace process must resume through negotiation. I very much want to see that. I’m issuing an alarm call. I’m saying to both the Americans and the Russians: you have the means—and the Russians in particular, because they have means of putting pressure on the Damascus regime—to ensure that a strong signal is given and that, in concrete terms, the situation on the ground in Aleppo improves.