France, Germany, Portugal and the UK are all deeply disappointed by Russia’s and China’s decisions to veto the resolution that we submitted to the Security Council this evening. The tabling of this resolution followed months of horrific abuses against civilians by President Assad and his regime, during which the regime has had repeated opportunities to stop the violence and to reform, had it intended to do so.
Those who blocked the resolution will have these actions on their conscience. These vetoes will be seen in the region as a decision to side with a brutal regime, rather than with the people of Syria. And it will be a bitter blow to all those Syrians who have implored the international community to take a stand.
The resolution that our four states tabled was carefully drafted and entirely reasonable. It contained nothing that any member of this Council should have felt the need to oppose. It took account of the needs of all sides to reject violence, stressed that the political transition should be Syrian-led, and was explicit that the Security Council’s considerations of sanctions against Syria should not include military action.
We shall continue to stand side by side with the Syrian people; we will redouble our efforts to work with our international partners to increase the pressure on the regime wherever we can and assure the people of Syria that they will not be forgotten.
M. ARAUD [in French] - To build on what my British colleague has just said, I’d like to emphasize that the text we’ve presented, which we negotiated for days and days, was a text that fell far short of what we would have liked.
As one of those responsible for the veto said, what was at stake wasn’t a choice of words but a political choice. The veto wasn’t against a text. The veto was against the Arab Spring; it was a veto against the Syrian people’s aspirations. Nothing in this text could justify a veto, only a desire to provide support to the Assad regime’s crackdown.
Q. – On the fear of consequences of the veto on the ground...
M. ARAUD [in English] – We have said very clearly that it was necessary to send a strong message to Assad, to stop the repression, to stop all violence. So we do hope that Assad is not going to take this result as a “carte blanche” to escalate the violence against the demonstrators. As I have said in my speech, this veto is not the end of the road. We are going to remain here and we will come back to the Council if we consider that there is a new stage of violence. We are not giving up.
Q. – Ambassador Araud, you and your American colleague and all of you suggested that the veto was a cynical decision about arm sales and staying close to the Assad regime. To what extent do you think the veto reflects an opinion among Russians and Chinese that Assad is going to survive and they don’t want to back the wrong horse?
M. ARAUD – Ask them the question. I am not going to answer for Russia and China. As I said it is not a question of wording. We have spent hours and hours on wordings and Ambassador Churkin said himself at the very beginning of his speech “it is not a question of text, it is a political choice, it is a political veto”.
Q. – You just said that you want to start again new talks on the resolution, but there is violence every day. When are you going to start again?
M. ARAUD – We can’t answer in this sort of hypothetical manner; we have this result tonight. Our resolve is that we want to act; we want to do our best to stop the violence. We are going to assess the situation and see when it’s possible to come back to the Council.
Q. – How can you also claim that you want some kind of democratic regime, whereas on the other hand you suppress the rights of the Palestinians? Many of you have opposed straightforwardly the request of the Palestinians to be represented?
M. ARAUD – We don’t suppress the right of the Palestinian people. I don’t understand what you mean.
Q. – Do you represent the majority of the Syrians when you talk here or do you represent part of the Syrians?
M. ARAUD – We simply ask that the Syrian people could exert their legitimate political rights. All the Syrian people. We want simply an inclusive political process for all the Syrians. Right now there is no such political process. There is nothing more./.