Paris, March 1, 2012
Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman (Paris, Thursday 1st March 2012)
North Korea – Moratorium on nuclear activities
France welcomes the announcement of a North Korean moratorium, on February 29, on the launch of long-range missiles, nuclear tests and uranium enrichment activities at the Yongbyon site.
North Korea has also agreed to allow IAEA inspectors to oversee the moratorium at this site.
This announcement is an encouraging step forward.
This must now be followed up by concrete action, and Pyongyang must return to the path of dialogue and international law with a view toward the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear and ballistic missile program, as required by UN Security Council resolutions 1695, 1718 and 1874.
Syria – Refusal by the Syrian authorities to allow Ms. Valerie Amos to conduct a visit to Syria
The refusal by the Syrian authorities to allow Ms. Valerie Amos to conduct a visit to Syria in order to assess the emergency measures required in order to provide humanitarian assistance to the population is extremely shocking. This decision is another clear sign that Damascus refuses to cooperate with the United Nations and to facilitate access to its territory.
France renews its appeal to the Syrian authorities to fully cooperate with the UN, and notably with the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, while the situation on the ground is continuing to deteriorate, and the crackdown against civilians is continuing to claim more lives every day, particularly in the city of Homs, which has been relentlessly bombed for 3 weeks now.
We welcome the decision of the UN-Arab League Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, to conduct a visit to Damascus in the near future. We support his determination to convey a clear message to the Syrian authorities. The violence must stop and the humanitarian actors must finally be given access to the populations at risk and to all areas under threat. A political solution to the ongoing crisis must be found quickly. The Damascus government will have to heed this message. All international actors will have to facilitate Mr. Annan’s efforts to carry out his mission which is likely to prove difficult.
Syria – UN Human Rights Council resolution
Through the resolution adopted today by the Human Rights Council, the international community strongly condemns the repressive policy being imposed by the Damascus regime against its population as a crime against humanity.
Like the conclusions of the report by the International Commission of Inquiry, the conclusions drawn in the HRC resolution are clear. The Council denounces the massive and systematic campaign of violence and all forms of human rights violations, including the use of military force against civilian populations and repressive measures against journalists.
This resolution highlights the humanitarian emergency affecting the Syrian population, the attacks resulting in an increasing flow of refugees and displaced persons, as well as the dire situation in the besieged cities.
In the face of this situation, the Human Rights Council, on the basis of the conclusions of the Friends of Syria group in Tunis, calls for an immediate end to the violence and human rights violations and demands that the UN and the humanitarian agencies be given free access in order to deliver the assistance needed to relieve the suffering of the Syrian population.
The Human Rights Council clearly signals that the Damascus regime’s crimes will not go unpunished.
The international community has spoken out once again. This new UN resolution is an unequivocal message to the Syrian authorities, who must immediately act on the demands of the international community.
Can you give us an update on the situation of Edith Bouvier and William Daniels ? Are they still in Homs ? What condition is Edith Bouvier in ?
Are you in contact with the NGO, Avaaz, which played a key role in the attempt to get the journalists out, enabling Paul Conroy to get to Lebanon on Tuesday ?
Whether in Paris or on the ground, we’re doing everything possible to safely evacuate Edith Bouvier. We’re fully mobilized.
The violence in the city of Homs, which has reached an intolerable level, must cease in order for us to achieve this objective. We urge the Syrian authorities to take a decision to that end.
Furthermore, we’re in close contact with our compatriot’s family.
As I’ve already had the opportunity to say, discretion is of the utmost importance in the best interests of our compatriot concerned.
According to the SNC, countries have expressed their desire to arm the Syrian opposition members. How could that be done, in your view ?
The Syrian people have been persecuted by their government for 11 months.
We resolutely support the efforts of the Syrian opposition.
The regime is plunging the country further into war and chaos every day.
For security reasons, the UK is withdrawing all its diplomatic personnel from Syria. Will those of France remain in Syria ?
Our arrangements in Damascus haven’t changed.
What’s your response to the deepening crackdown against the city of Homs ?
We’re outraged by the suffering endured for more than 3 weeks now by the population of the city of Homs. All evidence suggests that the Syrian forces led by General Maher al-Assad have begun a process of systematic destruction and massacre in the Bab Amr neighborhood.
This policy aimed at eliminating all forms of resistance and imposing terror causes outrage in France and around the world. More than ever, the international community must support the Arab League’s efforts to put an end to these massacres.