Syria – Speech by Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the Geneva II conference (Montreux, 22 January 2014) [fr]
Ladies and gentlemen,
The solution to the Syria tragedy can only be political. The purpose of this conference, known as Geneva II, is political and it’s clear. It is very well set out in the letter of invitation from Mr Ban Ki-moon, whom I congratulate on his determination. I quote:
“In light of the appalling human suffering and widespread destruction in Syria […] it is imperative to reach a peaceful settlement with the greatest urgency […] a political settlement implementing fully the Geneva Communiqué […] beginning with an agreement on a transitional governing body with full executive powers, formed by mutual consent.”
So things – at least on paper – are clear. It’s not about having a general discussion on Syria, not about hurling insults or propaganda slogans, and nor is it a way of playing for time or delivering speeches repeating the word “terrorism” without analyzing the real causes and therefore the real ways of combating it. It’s about seeking a political agreement for Syria concerning this transitional authority with full executive powers.
And in order for there to be no possible ambiguity, the United Nations Secretary-General adds that “attendance will be taken as commitment to the aims of the conference stated above”.
France is fully in agreement with these objectives, reaffirmed in a unanimous Security Council resolution. Contrary to what some people claim, they do not constitute “preconditions”. The conference’s agenda is in no way a precondition; it’s the mandate given by the United Nations, which is therefore binding on everyone.
We’ll therefore have to be very vigilant in ensuring that this agenda is respected, that pretences and possible delaying tactics are prevented and that we can make as much progress as possible, under the mediation of the Joint Special Representative, Lahkdar Brahimi, in the search for peace.
Does this mean that this search will be easy? Most probably not. You only need to hear some of the first speeches this morning. Any conflict of this nature and violence is very complicated to extinguish. It’s taken a year and a half for this meeting to take place. The bloody clashes in Syria and the whole region, the horror of the atrocities shown only yesterday – we haven’t forgotten the chemical massacre committed in Damascus by Bashar al-Assad, who swore a few days earlier that he didn’t possess those kinds of weapons –, the recourse to large-scale crimes, organized famine, all this and many other monstrosities can’t be forgotten. The regime bears overwhelming responsibility for this situation and, by the same token, for the rise in criminal terrorism, which it claims to be fighting but which, in reality, objectively, is its ally. The Syrian National Coalition is acting bravely against both, and we support it.
Because this terrible situation exists, because it’s killing hundreds, thousands of innocent men, women and children every month, we’re urgently calling at the outset of this conference for one or more ceasefires to be implemented, for humanitarian corridors to be opened up and for supplies and medicines to be provided to the survivors. These measures – no doubt isolated, but essential – should help not only the suffering population but the progress of this conference.
For we’re here in this comfortable hotel at a time when, on the ground, people are suffering and dying and fighters are killing each other. If it’s true that every man has within himself the entire human condition, then France, a peaceful power, calls on the belligerents – and particularly the regime – to take concrete, so-called confidence-building measures as a matter of urgency. Those who don’t do so will be adding inhumanity to their inhumanity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
France, an independent nation, a permanent member of the Security Council, a traditional friend of the Syrian, Jordanian and Lebanese peoples and all the peoples of the region, is here to try and further the cause of peace. We have no hidden agenda. We have no interest to defend other than that of reconciliation, of a Syria finally united, democratic, respectful of individuals and of the various communities, of an independent Syria, without foreign fighters on its soil and not led by a mass murderer.
This is the twofold wish I’m expressing, alongside the Syrian National Coalition, for this conference and for its participants:
- To fulfil the conference’s agenda as it has been defined;
- To implement, without delay, positive confidence-building measures for the Syrian people.
All this in order to make progress towards peace./.