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16 September 2011 - Libya - Remarks to the press by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

This is a very important and exciting day on the issue of the Libyan crisis. This morning we had the overwhelming vote of the General Assembly, which granted admission to the delegation of Libya. It was a symbolic political gesture with an overwhelming majority.

This afternoon there has been a unanimous vote of the Security Council which is twofold: one fold is the creation of a support mission with minimal footprint in Libya for fulfilling the missions which were requested by the Secretary General in his letter, and secondly to start the delisting of the sanctions to allow Libya to begin its reconstruction. The only exceptions to the sanctions that have been adopted are for humanitarian purposes and the new Libyan authorities have requested to have access to some of their funding, especially the Central Bank of Libya and other entities, to allow the economic reconstruction of Libya.

While the text is appealing for this, for the moment, we are keeping the no-fly zone and the authorisation to use force which is in the OP4 of resolution 1973 since the fighting is not over yet. But of course, the prospect of putting an end to the no-fly zone and to the OP4 is in the text and this should happen when the circumstances permit, in consultation with the National Transition Council.

It was a very moving moment to see Mr Dabassi as the Representative of Libya, in our Council. It is a very successful day for the UN. It is a successful day for all the countries which have contributed to the liberation of Libya from the dictatorship of Gadhafi.

Having said that, we know that much remains to be done. This country is still in the middle of fighting, there is still violence going on. It is very important to build an inclusive political process. The Libyan authorities have taken this commitment, and also to restore law and order, to defend Human Rights and to put an end to the violence which some people, especially African migrants are suffering from. It is a very difficult period and today was a very significant step into the right direction but there are still a lot of steps ahead of us.

The message of the Security Council has been very clear: we are on the side of the Libyan people and we will help you in the coming weeks and coming months.

Q : Mr Ambassador, you heard that Palestine is going to ask for UN membership, what is your reaction?

For the moment, the question of procedure is not relevant. First, we have to know, when and how the political decision will be transmitted to the UN. For the moment, we have a speech and that is President Abbas’ sovereign right. The Security Council will see a text when it is brought to the Secretary General and when the Secretary General will transmit it to the Security Council. So I think it is very premature, on the basis of a speech, to try to say what is going to happen. First, it has to happen effectively and we will judge on this basis in the coming days. The rules of procedure are very clear. This organization is a legal one and we abide by those rules.

Q : Is it possible for France and the European members of the Security Council to put this request of Palestine on hold and maybe put the resolution in blue without a vote?

As I have said, it is very premature. There is a speech. Now we have to see what message will be transmitted to the UN. It is a very sensitive issue. We will see when the question is asked in concrete terms. For the moment, we have heard only an intention; we’ll judge the action. We respect President Abbas’ decision but we are waiting for the initiative and we will judge upon it.

President Abbas repeatedly said that he wanted to request full membership at the Security Council. He already said that in Cairo this weekend and had said it before so I guess for us, at this moment, we have always considered it as one of the options on the table. Everybody knew there were two or three options and that this was one of them. It is no surprise.

We have to assess the situation and know the facts before taking the next steps. We have to wait for a proposal and for a decision to be taken by the Palestinians. Then we will decide what we are going to do. As my authorities have declared, for France, all options are on the table and we will take final decisions on the basis of all elements.

Q : On Libya and the continued NATO bombing in Bani Walid, is it still protection of civilians? And also there were some assumptions of France getting 35% of oil revenue from the new Libya? Is that part of the calculation?

This does not make sense. Gaddafi’s Libya was already selling its oil to western companies and this new national government is going to sell the oil at the market price. So again, it is very premature, we are still in the middle of the fighting.

As for NATO operations, it is still protection of civilians.

Q : How much longer NATO forces are going to stay there?

I do not know, it is linked to the decision of the National Transition Council. We won’t stay if the National Transition Council or the Government is asking us to stop. I do believe that it is linked to how the military operations go on.

Learn more on Libya.

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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