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13 June 2011 - Syria - Interview of Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent representative of France to the United Nations, with {O Estado de S

Translated form Portuguese

Is a resolution alone enough to suppress Bashar al-Assad’s regime? Why isn’t it planning sanctions? Are you afraid that Russia and China will use their right of veto?

As I speak, the Syrian security forces are using helicopters and heavy weapons to fire on unarmed civilians who are demonstrating peacefully. There’s an overwhelming need to respond, given that a further 1,100 people were killed after being fired on by the army and the police according to the UN. This is a savage and brutal crackdown; we can’t be silent accomplices to it. We can’t remain silent in the face of this tragedy which poses a risk to the stability of an already fragile region: there have been incidents on the border with Israel, thousands of refugees are pouring into Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. We’ve already taken action within the European framework, and other partners as well. Multilateral action is always more effective; that’s why it is crucial for the Security Council to speak out, as bilateral contacts haven’t been enough to influence Damascus.

How do you see the position of Brazil, which publicly condemns the violence in Syria but which, at the same time, refuses to support a resolution that specifically conveys this message?

Brazil is one of the world’s largest democracies, based on humanist and universalist principles. We’ve heard the Brazilian authorities express solidarity with the Syrian people. The Brazilian government denounced the use of force in Syria and demanded that a political process respond to the aspirations of the Syrian people. The Senate supported this message. We sincerely hope that Brazil’s vote will reflect this support for the democratic aspirations of Arab people. Our other draft resolution has no other goal than to encourage the Syrian authorities to take heed of the aspirations of their people and to launch a national political dialogue, without foreign interference. For that to happen the violence must stop. These are the messages conveyed by this resolution. I don’t see how one could object to them.

Is the Security Council split between the western countries (the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany) and the "BRICS" (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)?

For the vast majority of resolutions this split is a purely theoretical view. And in this case, our text has a majority that already goes beyond this framework, which we’re trying to expand. Brazil’s reluctance is due to the Libyan issue. The fact that we have differences of opinion regarding this issue doesn’t mean we should ignore the massacres that are taking place in Syria. The Security Council’s credibility and that of its members is at stake; as it is their mandate is to protect international peace and security. We’ve been discussing this text for two weeks. In that time 400 people, including women and children, have died, sometimes under torture. Thousands of refugees have fled Syria. Let’s be clear: inaction on the part of the Security Council is not an option. We must all rally together and we’re counting on Brazil. The Syrian people need the Security Council, now.

President Nicolas Sarkozy moved closer to Assad in recent years. Does France regret this trend towards normalizing its relations with Syria?

You can’t blame France for having tried the path of dialogue before adopting a firm line. Like Brazil, we believe that you have to give peaceful relations a chance - with all actors in the region. Nevertheless, there comes a time when, faced with the obvious facts, principles must prevail. The only way to achieve stability in Syria is through political reform, by the Syrians themselves, as the Brazilian government underlined at the end of April when it rightly reaffirmed that "it is the Security Council’s responsibility to deal with the impact of the crises in the Arab world on international peace and security." The winds of change are blowing across the Arab world. None of us can afford to miss this historical challenge which gives people the right to freedom.

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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