Official speeches and statements - October 29, 2018
President of the Republic of Turkey H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the French Republic H.E. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Russian Federation H.E. Vladimir Putin, and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany H.E. Angela Merkel gathered in Istanbul on 27 October 2018 for a Quadrilateral Summit on Syria.
The Presidents and the Chancellor,
Reviewed the recent developments regarding the conflict in Syria and expressed their shared concern on the risks and threats emanating from the conflict for regional as well as global security and stability;
Reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations;
Underlined their firm conviction that there could be no military solution to the ongoing conflict and that the conflict could be resolved only through a negotiated political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254, and emphasized, in this regard, the importance of increased coordination among all international initiatives which aim at contributing to a credible and sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict;
Reaffirmed their determination to fight against terrorism in Syria in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the UN Security Council;
Expressed their determination to reject separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries;
Welcomed the Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in the Idlib De-escalation Area, signed by the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation in Sochi on 17 September 2018;
Commended the progress in terms of withdrawal of heavy weapons as well as radical groups from the demilitarized zone established pursuant to the Memorandum;
Stressed the importance of a lasting ceasefire, while underlining the necessity to continue fight against terrorism, through the full implementation of the effective measures as foreseen in the Memorandum and of the compliance of all relevant parties with its provisions;
Reaffirmed their strongest opposition to the use of chemical weapons by any party in Syria and called for strict compliance by all parties with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction;
Expressed their support for an inclusive, Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process that is facilitated by the United Nations and called for active participation in it of the Syrian parties;
Called for establishing and early convening, considering the circumstances, by the end of the year of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva that would achieve the constitutional reform, paving the way for free and fair elections under the UN supervision and in compliance with the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate;
Emphasized the importance of implementing confidence-building measures to contribute to the viability of the political process and a lasting ceasefire, and expressed their support for the release of detainees/abductees and handover of the bodies as well as the identification of the missing persons, as undertaken by the respective Working Group with the participation of the UN and ICRC experts;
Underscored the need to ensure humanitarian organizations’ rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Syria and immediate humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need in order to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, and, in this regard, called upon the international community, particularly the UN and its humanitarian agencies to increase their assistance to Syria;
Reaffirmed their solidarity with the host countries, in particular Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and recalled that they remain committed to the safe and voluntary return of refugees to Syria on conditions consistent with the international law;
Highlighted the need to create conditions throughout the country for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their original places of residence in Syria, underlined that the returnees need security from armed conflict, political persecution or arbitrary arrests as well as humanitarian infrastructure, including water, electricity, health and social services, and emphasized the necessity of coordination among all relevant parties, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other specialized international agencies;
Expressed their commitment to working together in order to create conditions for peace and stability in Syria, encourage a political solution and strengthen international consensus in that regard.
The Presidents of the French Republic and the Russian Federation, and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany expressed their sincere gratitude to the President of the Republic of Turkey H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for hosting the Quadrilateral Summit in Istanbul./.
Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, congratulates Jair Bolsonaro, whom the Brazilian people elected President of Brazil on Sunday 28 October.
France and Brazil maintain a strategic partnership forged on the basis of the shared values of adhering to and promoting democratic principles. It is with due regard for these values that France wishes to continue its cooperation with Brazil, to take up the major present-day challenges for our planet, in the areas of international peace and security as much as in the framework of environmental diplomacy and the commitments of the Paris Agreement on the climate./.
What do you take away, overall, from these citizens’ consultations?
THE MINISTER - First of all, the strength of our fellow citizens’ expectations about Europe. They may have made criticisms, but I felt no indifference or any desire to turn their backs. And the purpose wasn’t to say how tremendous Europe was!
What are the major themes that cropped up most frequently?
THE MINISTER - First and foremost, there was the issue of social Europe, with French people’s annoyance about social dumping. I heard satisfaction with what’s been done in the past year, particularly with the revision of the posted workers system, but at the same time there’s an expectation for us to do a lot more. The fight for the environment and against global warming, as well as health issues, were also issues that emerged progressively over these six months.
How can you be sure only pro-European activists didn’t take part?
THE MINISTER - Eurosceptics can be heard talking loudly a lot, but overall the French want Europe. We didn’t want the government itself to organize the consultations: it was players on the ground that took responsibility for it, mainly local elected representatives, chambers of commerce, farmers, voluntary organizations etc. There were consultations in places where Europe isn’t talked about spontaneously, for example in Baumettes prison and in the Restos du Coeur [food charity].
We were interested in finding out what the widest variety of French people wanted to say about Europe. It can’t be a 100% representative sample, but each person was free to take part and I met participants who were sometimes very Eurosceptic or very critical of the EU.
What were the main criticisms?
THE MINISTER - A lot of people talked about a Europe they were unfamiliar with or which seemed to them too distant. I sensed annoyance or frustration, and a lot of EU actions are still not known about. For example, the beneficiaries of the Restos du Coeur often don’t know that a quarter of their meals are funded by Europe. Fears were also expressed in relation to current European events, for example by Breton fishermen about Brexit. Alongside daily concerns, I was also struck by many questions about Europe’s destiny, particularly concerning defence or security. For example, a lot of French people talked to me about a European army. The issue of tax harmonization was often mentioned, too, with the idea that there should no longer be differences in tax rates between one country and another.
Were there different themes in each European country?
THE MINISTER - I noticed, for example, that immigration wasn’t the dominant theme in France, whereas it may have been in other countries, like Austria. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a concern for French people. I was also very struck by some Eastern Europeans’ worries about foreign - often Russian - interference. On the other hand, I’m not convinced that social Europe was such a live issue in the other countries as it was in France.
What regrets do you have when it comes to assessing these consultations?
THE MINISTER - I have no regrets about the issues mentioned, because I had no preconceptions about them. The aim was really to find out what French people’s priorities were and to help us reform Europe better. However, I am dissatisfied in one way, about the fact that the online consultation wasn’t promoted enough. French and European people didn’t take sufficient ownership of that tool, at the very time when people are saying Europe’s action isn’t known about. I also regret the fact that two countries withdrew from the process, namely Hungary, and Italy following the new government’s election [with Matteo Salvini as Interior Minister]. Originally, the 27 EU countries agreed to take part.
What do you expect as a follow-up?
THE MINISTER - Many participants are wondering, Â“What do we do next?" and how we continue this participative democracy. It’s a question we’re asking ourselves, and I think we’ll have to repeat these democratic exercises in one way or another. I’m now expecting a lot of proposals from the final report. This summary will be available to all the political parties, with full transparency. Each one is free to make use of it for the European election campaign./.