Paris, April 4, 2012
Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman (Paris, 4th April 2012)
What’s happening with the discussions in New York on the Security Council’s draft presidential statement on Mali ? Can you confirm that Islamists in the north are driving out Touaregs from the towns they’ve taken, and in particular, Timbuktu ?
Do you have any information on the rebel advance on Mopti, where rebel movements were reported yesterday by the cooperation minister ?
We are closely following the situation in northern Mali, which is very unstable.
In this regard, as the foreign minister emphasized yesterday, we are concerned by the growing importance of AQIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] and its allies.
You know that the Security Council condemned the coup. As Alain Juppé has said, it is now important for the Council to express its support for the initiatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) aimed at finding a solution that allows for the swift restoration of constitutional order, an end to the rebel fighting and the international community’s mobilization against terrorism in Mali.
In view of the humanitarian crisis, the Security Council must also call on all parties in Mali to allow humanitarian organizations to assist vulnerable populations without restrictions.
Following yesterday’s discussions at the Security Council on the text we proposed, we hope a presidential statement will be adopted today.
As for the advice we give our citizens, northern Mali has for more than a year been a red zone, which means they are formally discouraged from staying there or visiting. The southern part of the country is currently an orange zone, which means they are discouraged from visiting or living there if there is no pressing need. Our embassy in Bamako is fully mobilized to inform our compatriots in real time of any developments in the situation and of the security measures to take.
Concerning Syria, Susan Rice said the Security Council must respond “in an urgent and serious way” if Kofi Annan’s plan isn’t implemented by April 10, at least the part relating to the authorities’ military disengagement. What does that mean, concretely ? A more robust presidential statement ? The preparation of a new draft resolution ?
On Monday, Kofi Annan informed the Security Council that the Syrian authorities had pledged to end the violence by April 10, in accordance with the special envoy’s six-point plan. The U.S. presidency of the Security Council proposed a draft presidential statement demanding that the Syrian authorities fully respect this commitment.
We are working closely with our partners to adopt that statement in a timely fashion, given the urgency. It is crucial for the Security Council to maintain strong, unambiguous pressure on the Syrian regime to immediately end the violence by enforcing the three implementing measures provided by the Annan plan : immediately ceasing troop movements toward population centers, ending the use of heavy weapons in cities, and beginning a pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers.
The Syrian regime’s full cooperation with Mr. Annan is now an international obligation. Failing to abide by this commitment would be a new insult to the international community. The Security Council would be forced to respond. France is actively working with each of the Security Council members to ensure that such a situation would not remain without consequences.
It is urgent, today, to adopt the presidential statement ordering Syria to respect its commitments.