France calls on Syrian regime to engage in transition
Syria – Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to the daily newspaper Ouest-France
Paris, 1 April 2016
Q. – Is the French position on Syria changing?
THE MINISTER – Our position is that the crisis can’t be overcome without a political solution. The ceasefire, which has generally been observed for the past month, is progress that we’re seeking to protect. It was unhoped-for. Even though new shifts in relative power may be visible with the Russian bombardments, the truce absolutely must be consolidated. But the urgent thing on the ground today is to ensure humanitarian aid gets to all the Syrian people who need it. It’s the regime that is preventing this. We’re constantly pressing for it. Finally, the political process has resumed, under the aegis of the UN Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura. We encouraged the opposition to take part in the talks. It played by the rules in the negotiations.
Q. – And the regime too?
THE MINISTER – No, it didn’t play by the rules.
Q. – What are you expecting of the regime?
THE MINISTER – France expects the Syrian regime to stop bombing civilians and engage, with no ulterior motives, in a political transition process in line with Resolution 2554.
Q. – With or without Assad?
THE MINISTER – Institutions must be kept which are acceptable to the opposition and to a number of regime elements, but ultimately Bashar al-Assad will have to go. At the end of the process, it’s very clear he won’t be able to remain as leader of the country. There will be a lot of points to negotiate – the territorial issue, minorities – so that the country can be rebuilt and the refugees enabled to go back, because the vast majority of them hope to go back.
Q. – Was it a mistake for us to link our diplomacy to Assad’s fate?
THE MINISTER – What counts is the resumption of the political process. Staffan de Mistura is moving ahead step by step, with the aim of ensuring nobody leaves the discussion table. Before August we ought to arrive at an institutional formula enabling elections to be organized. (…)./.