France calls for new Geneva meeting to address Syria crisis
Fight against terrorism/Syria/Daesh – Press conference given by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, following the Eastern Partnership Summit
Riga, 22 May 2015
Q. – May we come back to Palmyra? You declared yesterday evening that action had to be taken. In what way?
THE PRESIDENT – Palmyra strikes an emotional chord because of the site’s heritage. At the same time, people are being killed every day. Fighting is still going on today, including in hospitals, to the detriment of civilians. If Palmyra strikes an emotional chord, I share it because of what the site may hold in riches, which are our common property – that of Syrians and, I’d say, the whole of mankind. People are also facing extremely grave situations and I have continually denounced these.
So France, for its part, will continue to act both to support the democratic, moderate opposition and, at the same time, to find a political solution. Once again, we’re calling for a new Geneva [meeting] to be prepared. Remember, there have already been two meetings in Geneva. We must, given a visibly weakened regime and a Bashar al-Assad who can’t be Syria’s future, get a new Syria built which can put an end to the regime and Bashar al-Assad certainly, but, above all, the terrorists, since they are there and making progress.
So we must do everything in our power to ensure a political solution is worked on, prepared and achieved in the next few weeks.
Q. – But with Daesh [ISIL] at the gates of Damascus, isn’t a military intervention necessary?
THE PRESIDENT – The only intervention which matters today is the one by the democratic opposition. It’s the one which must allow these forces on the ground to win back. This is what France has always urged. What intervention? An air intervention exists, even though France isn’t taking part in it. The intervention hasn’t produced tangible results despite being effective on a few occasions.
We provided generous support to the Syrian Kurds and saw results from this, because the fighters must be able to go as far as recapturing territory.
Nevertheless, we’re seeing that the regime no longer has any capability, that terrorism – the Daesh group, but not just the Daesh group – is advancing and that there’s every reason now to speed up the political resolution. This is conditional on Russia, the powers – France is one of them, [and] obviously the United States – now speeding up our processes.
I’ve talked to the Gulf countries about this. They’re also conscious that this should be done through political channels, even though it doesn’t prevent us – it’s even, on the contrary, necessary – from supporting the opposition, including at the military assistance level. (…)./.