"We owe a duty to the Kurds’ courage and sacrifices" - Minister

Syria – Situation of the Kurds in Syria – Reply by M. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the Senate

Paris, 9 October 2019

Let me begin by apologizing for Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is in Lyon today at the Replenishment Conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

I believe we very widely share an immense respect for the male and female fighters, as you’ve highlighted, of the Syrian Democratic Forces, including the Kurds, who have played a key role, a decisive role in the territorial defeat of Daesh [so-called ISIL] with the international coalition’s support.

The courage of these men, these women, the SDF, and the sacrifices they have made very clearly demand our gratitude, and the President has expressed [this] to them several times, on the nation’s behalf, receiving them at the Elysée Palace.

Only very recently, yesterday, the President had a meeting with the SDF spokeswoman, Ilham Ahmed, and he’s very concerned about the Turkish operation. Very concerned, because the fight against Daesh is continuing alongside the SDF and remains our utmost priority in Syria. So it is important to protect these SDF fighters in the context you mentioned.

Immense respect also demands that these women and men are respected, and this is what we’re saying to the Americans and it’s what we’re saying to the Turks, clearly and frankly.

Only political dialogue will make it possible, in the long term, to guarantee a place in Syria for the Kurds and the other minorities, the Christians in particular. We owe a duty to the Kurds’ courage and sacrifices; we owed them a duty yesterday, we owe them a duty today and we owe them a duty for tomorrow as well./.

Syria – Declaration by the High Representative, on behalf of the EU, on recent developments in north-east Syria¹

Brussels, 9 October 2019

In light of the Turkish military operation in north-east Syria, the EU reaffirms that a sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict cannot be achieved militarily. The EU calls upon Turkey to cease the unilateral military action. Renewed armed hostilities in the north-east will further undermine the stability of the whole region, exacerbate civilian suffering and provoke further displacements. Prospects for the UN-led political process to achieve peace in Syria will be more difficult.

Unilateral action on Turkey’s part threatens the progress achieved by the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh, of which Turkey is a member.

Military action will indeed undermine the security of the Coalition’s local partners and risk protracted instability in north-east Syria, providing fertile ground for the resurgence of Daesh which remains a significant threat to regional, international and European security. The secure detention of terrorist fighters is imperative in order to prevent them from joining the ranks of terrorist groups.

It is unlikely that a so-called ‘safe zone’ in north-east Syria, as envisaged by Turkey, would satisfy international criteria for refugee return as laid down by UNHCR. The EU maintains its position that refugee and IDP returns to their places of origin must be safe, voluntary and dignified when conditions allow. Any attempt at demographic change would be unacceptable. The EU will not provide stabilization or development assistance in areas where the rights of local populations are ignored.

We share the goal of ending violence, defeating terrorism and promoting stability in Syria and the wider region. Turkey is a key partner of the European Union and a critically important actor in the Syrian crisis and the region, and the European Union commends Turkey for its important role as a host country of Syrian refugees. Turkey’s security concerns should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, not military action, in accordance with international humanitarian law. The EU continues to urge all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and unhindered, safe and sustainable humanitarian access throughout Syria.

The European Union remains committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state. These can be assured only through a genuine political transition in line with UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communique, negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process./.

¹ Source of English text: Council of the European Union.

Published on 08/01/2020

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