Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for your presence here today, which demonstrates the mobilization of the international community alongside the Syrians fighting for their freedom. I extend my warm greetings to the leaders of the Syrian National Coalition, around whom we are gathered today to renew our wholehearted support and our friendship.
We are pleased to have alongside us the representatives of a pluralist, free and democratic Syria, the Syria of tomorrow: Vice-Presidents Mr Riad Seif, Ms Suheir Atassi and Mr George Sabra; the ambassador of the Syrian National Coalition, Mr Monzer Makhos, and Mr Ahmad Assi Jarba, member of the Coalition.
We are here to face an emergency situation which unfortunately remains extremely urgent.
Humanitarian emergency. The Syrian regime is implementing brutal repression. It is employing all the means it has at its disposal: artillery, aviation, SCUD missiles and cluster bombs. Each new massacre, in Homs, Damascus, Aleppo and elsewhere, reveals every day the savagery of the regime. Since March 2011, the crackdown has killed more than 60,000 people and tens of thousands of people are missing. Four million people need emergency assistance, two million have been displaced and there are more than 650,000 refugees in neighbouring countries.
Political emergency. We must give the Syrian opposition the means to support its people, urgently and tangibly. The Syrian National Coalition, which France was first to recognize as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, and which more than 100 countries recognized as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in Marrakesh last December, embodies a future of peace, pluralism and freedom for Syria.
We invited you here today to Paris to address this twofold emergency, both humanitarian and political. We must also remain mobilized to avoid the risk of regional destabilization. This involves in particular providing the assistance the refugees need.
France had already, last October, organized a meeting in support of the civilian revolutionary councils in Syria. That meeting highlighted the vast needs and revealed the necessity of a unified political representation for Syrian society and an instrument for coordinating aid.
Today, we have that representation: the Coalition. The Syrian National Coalition aims to transport aid to the areas where the humanitarian agencies have little access and where a large part of the population lives, through the Aid Coordination Unit, led by Ms Suheir Atassi. With them, we can address the needs of the civilian population directly. This is what, alongside other countries, my country is doing, allocating €2.4 million to the Coalition, helping to purchase food baskets, clothing and flour and to support medical surgical units. We have also given the Coalition the means to support local civilian councils and to work with the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations. We also support the projects of an international NGO working with the Coalition. We provide it with humanitarian supplies to be transported. This effort contributes to France’s overall aid to the Syrian people, which totalled more than €13 million in 2012.
Indeed, it is decisive for the Coalition to prove to the people that it stands alongside them, to satisfy their basic needs and to bear the promise of a reconciled Syria. We know that the leaders of the Coalition who are present today are determined to act and succeed. We all have a responsibility – we represent more than 50 countries – to give them our full support. Because let’s be clear: faced with the collapse of a state and a society, there is a risk of extremist groups gaining ground. We cannot let a revolt, which began as a peaceful and democratic protest, break down into a clash of militias. It is in the interests of the Syrian people and all of us.
We must therefore act and take decisions. We are gathered here today to work concretely with the Coalition and provide it with the resources it needs. In Marrakesh in December, significant sums were pledged. These pledges must tangibly be kept.
I invite you to explore all opportunities for cooperation with the Syrian National Coalition. I can see at least three main objectives:
Define how we can better work with the Coalition and its representatives.
In order to support the functioning of the Coalition, mobilize equipment and expertise.
Help the Syrian people through the Aid Coordination Unit.
Several possibilities are available to us: direct funding of humanitarian actions; establishment of partnerships between the Coalition and international and Syrian non-governmental organizations; and the purchase of humanitarian equipment. We have genuine room for manoeuvre. We must send a clear signal to the Syrian people: we stand alongside you, in solidarity. This is why we are counting on all of you today.
Thank you once again for your presence, your attention and your determination to support just and legitimate aspirations. The Syrian people who are resisting tyranny are showing tremendous courage and we must now all commit to stand alongside them.
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