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16 December 2011 – Syria – Interview given by Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, to the “Le Parisien” newspaper

The Ambassador of France to the UN, Gérard Araud, believes that the Syrian regime, called into question by the popular uprising and subject to international pressure, no longer has any future.

The UN Security Council isn’t able to agree on a resolution condemning the bloody crackdown in Syria. How can we break this deadlock?

There’s a potential for civil war in Syria and the regime is counting on that. We feel that the country is descending into civil war. That’s why we support the Arab League’s intervention. If a Security Council resolution is achieved tomorrow, it must, above all, support the initiative of the Arab League which has mobilized its efforts. It urges Syria to withdraw its forces from the city centers, to accept the deployment of human rights observers and to initiate dialogue with the opposition.

On Monday, you felt that the Security Council’s silence was scandalous, but the Russians submitted a draft resolution on Thursday…

The Russians – who vetoed our draft resolution on October 4 – realized that their blind defense of Assad’s regime could no longer continue. They therefore shifted their position and submitted a text. It is totally unacceptable: it treats both parties in the same way and does not in any way condemn the human rights violations. But we will negotiate on the basis of this text. Russia has recognized that it had to make concessions and it has made a start; we will try to help it make even more concessions.

Can a resolution be achieved before Christmas?

I hope so… But it really all depends on the readiness of the Russians to accept our changes. Everything could be resolved in three days….or it could go on for weeks.

The Council has however received a damning report on the crackdown on Syria…

As one of my colleagues said, the report by Mrs. Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is the most horrifying we’ve heard at the Council in the last two years. She spoke of systematic human rights violations, torture clearly carried out on the order of the Syrian authorities, the murder of several hundred children, rapes committed against men and women in order to humiliate them, tens of thousands of arrests, soldiers ordered not just to fire on the demonstrators, but also on their comrades if they refuse to shoot!

Will Bashar al-Assad have to leave?

Could we possibly imagine national reconciliation with Assad? We believe the answer to this question is clearly no. Assad must leave, not because people would want his head, but because he can longer be part of a solution. But that’s up to the Syrians to decide. In contrast to Libya, at no time has there been – or will there be - any question of military intervention in Syria. Those who are trying to wave the specter of this threat are doing so in order to justify their inaction.

Interview by Bruno FANUCCHI

More information about the situation in Syria

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU