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31 August 2012 - End of the French Presidency to the United Nations - Remarks to the press by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

We have adopted a Presidential Statement. The negotiations were far too long: three weeks. But in a paradoxical way, Presidential Statement doesn’t depend on the Presidency, it wasn’t depending on us. So we have this strong text. It is a compromise but I think the Council should have adopted a shorter text simply expressing our support to Mbeki. It was not possible, but eventually we got a text.

On the French Presidency of the Security Council, when I met you at the beginning of the month I said that the schedule wasn’t depending on us because it was the schedule of the Security Council but we could have unexpected events.

First point, I said that maybe we could have something on Mali but Ecowas and Mali didn’t come to us. Intervening or blessing a military intervention depends on the subregional organisation and other countries. Our Malian and Ecowas friends didn’t come to us. So we didn’t have to react in the framework of resolution 2056. Maybe they will come next month, I don’t know. But it is to the organisation to react.

The second point, that was something unexpected, is the Côte d’Ivoire incidents which are worrying on the security situation. We are expecting reports of what happened and what we are going to do. It is obvious that there will be consequences on the military posture of the United Nations. But we have to wait first the analysis of our military specialists to see what we will do.

Thirdly on Syria, as I have repeatedly stated the Council is deeply divided. We didn’t have three vetoes on the same topic since the cold war. So in political terms it is nearly impossible to move forward. Yesterday we tried to hold at least a meeting on humanitarian issues. But I can tell you that even on humanitarian issues, it was impossible to get an outcome. It was impossible to find a common ground. But we hope that, even with the strong limitation of the Council, we have mobilized the international community about the humanitarian situation in Syria.

I leave now the command to my German friends and they will have to organise the high level segment of the General Assembly.

Thank you for having followed the French presidency.


Q: Mr Ambassador, I know that there is a General Assembly meeting on Syria on Tuesday, and that the British Foreign Secretary made some comment about possibly taking up the issue again in the coming weeks. Are there any expectations of any possible outcomes that could move things along to end the violence and start a political process?

There will be a meeting because Mr Brahimi has been appointed by the General Assembly, so it is normal that he goes to the General Assembly. Whether something is possible, the impression is that both sides are for the moment determined to fight until the end. So a political process is possible only when one or both parties decide that it is necessary to find a political process. For the moment, to be frank, there is no signal of that. And we cannot impose it on both sides.

Things can change over night. If the regime concludes that it is not possible to defeat the opposition, it may accept the idea of a political transition.

Q: About the Sudan statement: it seems that firstly it was going to demand that the government of Sudan fully and unconditionally accept this map, and now it is strongly urging them to accept it. Was it why it took so long?

There is not only that. It was one of the elements. But it was a very long battle, on a lot of issues. You are emphasizing one of them, but there were a lot of different issues. Basically there was a usual fighting between countries which are closer to Sudan and countries which are closer to South Sudan. I think it was useless. The moment was to support what President Mbeki has told us. There was a long debate between the two sides of the Council. At the end, we have this compromise.

Q: Where does it stand on the idea of an Envoy on Sahel?

The idea is that the Secretary-General will present to the Council in September reports on the strategy. We are on a global strategy on Sahel. France has requested from the Secretariat to have an integrated strategy on Sahel, so this strategy should be presented. We expect part of the strategy to be the appointment of the Special Envoy in Sahel. I guess that the real moment when we are going to know will be the high level meeting on Sahel which would be chaired by the SG on the margins of the high-level segment of the General Assembly, which should be held on the 26th of September.

Q: Even though this Presidential Statement is very late, is there any message to both countries in it?

The message should have been that President Mbeki had made a breakthrough: the impression that the two sides, with all the reluctance, coming from a long history of fighting, had decided to choose the diplomatic way. But the problem is that there are a lot of different technical issues, so you could argue that it is half full half empty. One side says half full, the other side says half empty, and they were fighting on every coma, every word, which is also the reflection of the tension within the Council. After what happened on Syria, this Council is a polarized council. It is also an element and I do hope that we will overcome this moment.

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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