Before the UN vote earlier, the French Ambassador said that moral values must overcome the icy divisions on Syria inside the Security Council. This appeal did not sway either Russia or China. This is the fourth time those two nations have blocked UN resolutions on Syria. Ambassador Gérard Araud joins us now on the program, live from New York.
Q: Mr Ambassador, thank you so much. We heard a little earlier, as Ambassador Vitali Churkin of Russia said that the end goal of this resolution was to sponsor foreign intervention in Syria. Your reply?
It is absurd. In French, we say “what is excessive is insignificant, meaningless”. My Russian colleague did not succeed in giving one good reason as to why he vetoed this resolution. This resolution, as you said, simply stated that criminals from both sides, someday, should be indicted.
Q: Why do you think that Russia and China, and they may have different reasons, have blocked all of these resolutions related to Bashar al-Assad and his rule in Syria?
Russia has made a bet in the beginning of the crisis which was to support Assad. They have told us from the beginning they considered that the issue was between Assad and the jihadists. Now, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. After three years, the opposition is fragmented, radicalized, and the jihadists have come. By supporting Assad now, they have the impression that their policy is a success. Because Assad, as you have said previously, has the upper hand right now on the ground. It is not now that he is winning that they are going to let Assad out in the cold.
Q: If you knew that this resolution was going to be vetoed, and I assume that you did, why did you proceed? What was the point?
First, we have tried to present a text that was as balanced as possible for a Russian. We really considered that this text could be supported by Russia. When we were told that eventually they would not, we decided to expose Russia. We wanted to show that Russia was supporting Assad to the point of covering his crimes but also the crimes of Al Qaida. We have been supported by 65 countries, by more than one hundred NGOs. It is a moral stand and it is a call to the international public opinion.
Q: Do you think that it will have an effect? Do you think that Moscow will be embarrassed?
I do not know if we can embarrass the Russians right now. But I hope it can help us in the next step. The next step is to move forward on a resolution on humanitarian access. We hope it will be more difficult for the Russians to oppose a veto to the next resolution, after having done it today. In the coming weeks, there will be a new round of discussions about Syria in the Council.
Q: On humanitarian aid, people have pointed out that those in the West, France among them but also the United States, Britain and others, speak a lot about human rights and about humanitarian aid. In countries like Lebanon, the situation is dire: refugees cannot get the medical care they need because there is no support from the international community.
You are right; the Lebanese are showing an incredible generosity to the Syrians: one million Syrians in a country of three or four million inhabitants. We are trying to help the Lebanese. We have created an international group of support to Lebanon. We are mobilizing financing for the Lebanese. But I think what is more urgent are the millions of Syrians who are trapped in Syria. I think we should allow the humanitarian organizations to bring them aid across the borders. That will be the goal of our next resolution.
Q: We are going to an election in Syria. Even Bashar al-Assad’s opponents in that election are praising him for his military victories. What are your thoughts about that vote ahead? And what kind of a nation would Bashar al-Assad really be taking charge of now? The one that he has created?
We have tried to have a political process. There was a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General: M. Brahimi. He held two sessions of discussions between the opposition and the government. Eventually, he resigned and he told us why: the government does not want to negotiate because Bashar al-Assad thinks that he may win on the ground. He is looking for a military victory. He is hoping to crush his enemy. He is not looking for reconciliation. He is looking for a victory. Unfortunately, it means that in the coming weeks and months, the war is going to go on and the Syrians are going to suffer. It is very sad.
Ambassador Gérard Araud, I want to leave it there. I thank you very much for taking the time and for coming here on our program and for talking to our viewers around the world about how you see the events today inside the Security Council and in Syria as well. Again, thank you.
Thank you for your questions. Thank you very much.