More than 2,700 civilian victims. Tens of thousands of demonstrators held in Syrian prisons. More than 10,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
That is the terrible toll for which the Syrian authorities can today take credit since the beginning of demonstrations this past March.
That is the terrible toll that some around this table today refused to condemn.
Since May, we have worked relentlessly to get the Security Council to react. Our aim was—and remains—a simple one: to bring an end to the Syrian regime’s brutal crackdown against its own people, who are legitimately demanding the exercise of the most basic rights in order to foster the emergence—in a context free of violence and intimation—of an inclusive political process conducted by and for the Syrians.
To this end, France has assumed its responsibilities at the national and European level. The European Union has adopted several rounds of sanctions against those responsible for the violence and the means that enable the crackdown to continue. Other states, as well as our American partners, have done so as well.
At the same time, diplomatic efforts have been pursued with the Damascus regime. A wide range of diplomatic efforts, including some by members of the Security Council, to which the Syrian authorities have turned a deaf ear.
In view of the extreme violence against a population demanding the exercise of its rights, in view of the deafness of the Syrian authorities, and in view of the risk of international instability, a united reaction on the part of the international community was imperative.
By virtue of its mandate, the Security Council is the best spokesman in this regard. Since May, we have worked tirelessly to get the Security Council to issue a clear message aimed at the Syrian authorities.
After the massacre in Hama, on August 3 the Council adopted a presidential statement condemning the Syrian authorities and calling for an immediate halt to the violence.
On that basis, we drafted a resolution. All possible efforts were made to take into account the concerns of certain Council members and build an unanimous reaction. Everyone knows that we agreed to review our text numerous times, notably by removing a whole range of sanctions even when we thought they were necessary. Everyone knows that we have been making a lot of concessions. The text we presented today was in many respects very close to the presidential statement we adopted on August 3. It was aimed at updating it, considering the last row of events.
We therefore cannot doubt the significance of the veto of this text. It is not a matter of wording, it is a political choice. It is a statement of principle that signifies the rejection of any Security Council resolution against Syria. It is an expression of disregard for the legitimate aspirations courageously expressed in Syria for the past five months. It’s a rejection of the extraordinary movement in support of freedom and democracy that is the Arab Spring.
Make no mistake: this state of affairs will not stop us. No veto can clear of their responsibility these Syrian authorities that have lost any legitimacy by murdering its own people. Calls from the Arab League to stop the bloodbath, statements by neighboring countries, the throes of the Syrian people, show that this veto runs counter to the history being made in Syria and throughout the region.
In the Security Council, in the European Union, together with all its partners, France will not cease its efforts to ensure that the rights of the Syrian people are recognized and respected, so that those responsible for the violence will one day be held accountable for their actions before the law, and they will be, and that an inclusive and credible political process responds to their aspirations they express everyday.
And I want to conclude by applauding the courage of all those who continue, after so many months of bloody repression, to proclaim freedom loud and clear in Syria. Only an efficient answer to those aspirations will bring the stability back in this country, a stability that bears consequences to the stability of a fragile region. The international community, and above all this Council, because of its mandate, will not be able to escape the responsibility to ensure this stability. We regret it has not done so tonight.