Q: The succession of Kofi Annan is coming up. What is holding up this nomination which has been expected for a while. Does that mean that the peace plan will have to be adapted with the new special Envoy?
For the first question, you have to ask the Secretary-General. The new Envoy is being appointed: there are discussions ongoing between the Secretary General and the Secretary General of the Arab League. The process is not under the control of the members of the Security Council.
It is a very tough job. There are a lot of constraints, first to be appointed by two organizations and, secondly, to find somebody courageous enough to face this task. My understanding is that he, or she, will be appointed on Monday or on Tuesday. As for the peace plan, for the moment, the six points plan is the only game in town, the only text that has been approved by all the members of the Security Council. I suspect that, for the moment, we have to stick to it. Especially to the first point, on the end of violence, which is, by far, the most important element?
Q: Many people have said that the Annan plan is the only game in town and now it’s a game that no one is really playing. In this context, what is the point of even sticking at the Security Council?
If suddenly we say: “we don’t care, we don’t need a Special Envoy, and we don’t need a six-point plan”, it means war. It’s obvious that for the moment - we don’t know what will happen in the coming hours- the military solution has been the choice of the government and the opposition is fighting back. But we should have somebody who could re-launch a negotiation process, if there is an opportunity. We simply can’t let down the Syrians and say to these people “go fight and come back when you are done with your fighting”. Maybe the Special Envoy will be useless in the first week or in the first weeks, but at least there will be somebody to seize every opportunity to find a political solution.
Q: On Mali: the other day, the Secretary General said that the Security Council should think about sanctioning people who are spoilers. The Security Council itself urged countries to present names of people to be added to the Al Qaeda sanctions list. Where does that process stand and what kind of people would France like to see on the sanctions list?
Some names are on the process. It’s a technical and a complicated process but names have been introduced to be added to the Al Qaeda list. There was a discussion: is it necessary to create a new regime of sanctions for Sahel? At the end of the debate, the member states considered that it was better to keep it in the pre-existing Al-Qaeda context.
Q: On Syria, what is the purpose of the reappointment of anyone?
As I said, you can despair. You can simply say “let them fight to death”. But a situation is never 100% hopeless. We need to have somebody who could try to re-launch the negotiations if there is an opportunity. There will certainly be a UN presence in Damascus. Let’s suppose that at some point the regime understands at last that it will not crush the opposition and prevail, they may want to open a channel of negotiations. So far, I think the UN is the only channel which could appear as acceptable by both parties.
Q: What is your best hope for the Security Council meeting on Thursday?
The Security Council is deeply divided: not only because of the vetoes, but also because the debates at the Security Council are extremely polarised in political terms. I have never seen such polarisation since I arrived three years ago.
At the same time, there is an extremely dramatic humanitarian situation. We want to see if it is possible at least to find the unity of the Security Council on the humanitarian basis, but it is difficult. There is no humanitarian access right now. We are obliged to work through the Red Crescent. These people are doing a great job but they are overwhelmed by the situation. Millions of Syrians are lacking food, medicine, water sanitation... Can’t we at least send a unified message on this issue that we think is not controversial?
Q: Recently, there was the attack on the camp in Duékoué and then there was an attack on the army in Abidjan. Another day, there was a proposal to reduce the size of ONUCI, maybe to take battalion out of Abidjan. Is there really a rethinking based on these attacks of a new approach of the mission?
The first attack was against a village in the West of the country. Mr Koenders came to the Council afterwards because it was the renewal of the mandate. He said that it was not an isolated incident, but there could be a pattern of attacks, some people are preparing this sort of destabilisation of Côte d’Ivoire. The UNOCI had changed its posture: forces had been deployed in a different manner.
Obviously the expectation was that the threat was out of Abidjan. We have seen what happened in Abidjan. So the UNOCI command is going, in the coming days, with the Ivorian authorities, to consider the situation, and to see if it is possible to reduce the force in Abidjan, or if it is not possible. There is a new situation and we have to respect the decision of the specialists, the Ivorian armed forces and the police, who are responsible for the law and order in Côte d’Ivoire, and of course of the UNOCI.
Q: On the outcome of the Uganda meeting about the DRC and the region of the Kivus: it seems that there was not an agreement reached on an international force and Kabila has said he would not negotiate with the M23. What are your thoughts on this?
As President of the Security Council, the proposal of a neutral force has raised a lot of scepticism within the Security Council. People don’t consider that the solution is to seal the border between Rwanda and the DRC, but it is to reach a political agreement.
It will take very long to create this force, it will be very costly if it is created ab nihilo, from nothing. If you take it from MONUSCO, then MONUSCO’s ability to protect the civilians would be dramatically reduced. It is raising a lot of questions, a lot of scepticism. Before taking a decision, we have to see a concrete proposal. There is no agreement between the different parties.
For the moment, the most important is the suffering of the civilian population. It means that the M23, which is an armed group, recruiting children, raping women, stops its attacks. We do call all parties, including external actors, to reach an agreement to put an end to the suffering.
Thank you very much.