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10 December 2013 - Somalia/ Central African Republic/ Syria - Remarks to the press by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and President of the UN Security Council

(In English and in French)

We had a presentation on UNSOM by Mr. Kay on the situation in Somalia. He described what he is trying to do to push forward a political process. The timetable is to have an agreement on the federal model in 2014 so they can have a constitution and have a general election in 2016.

There was also a long discussion on the situation of human rights, including child soldiers and gender-based violence.

There was an agreement that the situation was difficult, that UNSOM was doing its best to advise and support the efforts of some parts of the government to improve the situation of human rights. But in this country, because of 20 years of war, because of some cultural problems and the lack of law and order, the situation remains extremely tense. So there is a lot of work to do. The UN is doing its part.

There was also a discussion on the implementation of resolution 2124. This resolution has increased the ceiling of the Force by 4,000 soldiers. It means that a new CONOPS - Concept and Plan of Operation - will have to be prepared to adjust the Force to the new challenges but also by using all the personel.

There was also the idea of having an informal dialogue of the Council with the Force Commander of the AMISOM. This idea has been agreed.

So the general feeling of everybody at the end of this meeting was that there are a lot of problems as you can guess. We all agreed there are still a lot of problems. The -Shabab has been pushed back but they are still trying to have new forms of military or terrorist action. There also are political problems. As Mr Kay said, in other times it would have been bloody; here it was the normal functioning of a Parliament.

There were some concerns about the resignation of the President of the Central Bank because it has consequences in terms of accountability and transparency. There were a lot of concerns expressed about the human rights situation, especially the situation of child soldiers.

But the general feeling was that the glass is half full rather than half empty. We could have 20 arguments to say that the situation is bad, but the general feeling is that we are moving uphill.

Q: Mr Kay mentions these 410 guards. Did they have any function of protection of civilians if something happens in front of them? And at the noon briefing it was said that France has a Letter of Assist from the UN to pay for airfield services in Northern Mali, to be paid from UN budget funds. They wouldn’t say the amount. On behalf of France, could you say if you have ever considered donating these services? Why are you charging and how much is being charged?

I think you know better than I do the UN Procurement procedures. The procurement system is managed by DFS. So I think it is to Mrs. Haaq to answer. Every year DFS is issuing hundreds of tenders. You will not be surprised that French corporations are answering to some tenders.

If you look at the figures you will see that, considering all the tenders on peacekeeping operations, France is getting between 2.5 and 2.6% of the amount of the tenders for peacekeeping operations. I draw your attention to other figures: Russia is getting 14%, our part in the world GDP is between 4 and 4.5%, our part in the budget of peacekeeping operations is 7.5%, which means that France is the third contributor to the peacekeeping operation budget after US and Japan. On the basis of these figures I am sure you are going to rush to the spokesperson of the UN to ask why French corporations actually don’t get their fair share of the tenders of the UN and why Russia is getting much more of the tenders of the UN.

With regard to your question on the Central African Republic yesterday, I would like to add that yesterday Nourredine Adam has not been arrested. You should double check your sources.

Q: About the CAR, today two French soldiers were killed. Are you considering that this could be indicating a kind of escalation or is it what you were expecting? Also on Syria, the Croatians have announced they were considering the possibility of offering port services for the Syrian chemical weapons destruction. Is it a good idea that other countries are under consideration…

On Syria, I didn’t know that Croatia proposed a port. A Danish and a Norwegian ship are going to transport the chemical agents. The problem is the transloading from the Danish and the Norwegian ships to the Americans ship where the chemicals are going to be destroyed. We needed a port for transloading. If Croatia is considering that, it would solve one of the problems because so far there was no Mediterranean port which had volunteered for the transloading of the chemical agents.

As for our two soldiers, the situation in the Central African Republic is very different from the situation in Mali. What we are going to face in the Central African Republic is an adversary which is basically vanishing. As I said, they are not fighters, they are armed thugs, so they are disappearing, they are giving up their uniforms. It will be a difficult mission. We have always been aware that it would be a difficult mission, especially because we want to disarm all the armed groups. So the death of the two soldiers is a very bloody incident and of course we are moved by what happened to our soldiers but we are determined to move forward. There could be other incidents down the road. It is quite difficult, the country is huge. We have only 1,600 soldiers. The African troops are arriving. We are trying to have the CAR gendarmes back to the streets. There are tensions in Bangui which is a large city, there are acts of revenge, acts of looting, acts of lynching. It is difficult to control such an area with the personel we have. So it is important that the African troops arrive as soon as possible and that the CAR gendarmes are in the streets as quickly as possible.

Q: On Syria, the OPCW is not sure whether the deadline will be met; it is said that it may take longer. Is there a procedure in the Security Council to address this situation?

The deadline is the 31st of December. I have been told, but I have to check and you have to check, that this deadline has been set by the OPCW which is not a date which is in the resolution of the UN. So it will be to the OPCW to adjust its deadline if this deadline is not respected.

We are aware that it may happen, that the deadlines may not be totally respected. The first question is: is it because of the bad will of the Syrian government or because there are objective problems? If there are objectives problems, which so far is the case – the problems so far are the difficulties to transport the chemical agents from the sites to Latakia because of the security, to find a transloading place and if there is a delay, it would be to the Security Council to adjust its deadline.
But this delay could be only of a few weeks.

Q: Sur la Centrafrique, le Président Djotodia ne semble pas être très coopératif et refuser de céder aux pressions pour appeler au désarmement et au calme. Est-ce que c’est maintenant devenu un obstacle à la paix et que peut-on faire à ce propos ?

Ce que j’ai entendu est que le Président Djotodia avait appelé au désarmement et avait appelé tous les groupes armés à déposer les armes. Ce que le Président de la République française a dit et ce que nous répétons est que nous avons besoin le plus vite possible d’un ordre constitutionnel crédible en République centrafricaine. C’est la raison pour laquelle nous pensons que si des élections pouvaient se tenir dès l’automne 2014, cela pourrait être positif. C’est une question de quelques mois puisque les Accords de Libreville prévoient des élections avant janvier 215. Vu les tensions politiques sur le terrain, nous pensons qu’il serait préférable d’avoir des élections le plus vite possible et le plus vite possible c’est la seconde moitié de 2014.

Q : Regarding Somalia, there were suggestions that they need 12 helicopters in Somalia. Did any country come forward with a proposal to provide these helicopters?

No yet.

And with regards to the question of the guard unit in Libya, it has been approved by the Libyan government. The real question is that it has created in the public opinion a sort of backlash. That is the reason why we are going to revisit the issue but it has been approved by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

As for Somalia, the request has been presented and will be examined by the Security Council for a force of 410. We have to visit all the issues considering these ideas: we will have a guard unit in Libya – which makes sense since there is no security whatsoever for the UN given by the Libyans -, in the Central African Republic there will be a guard unit too and now in Somalia we have to think in terms of the legal aspects of this force. In the case of Somalia, no decision has been taken by the Council. On the principle, everybody considered that they need security. On the personel, I think it will be another case.



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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