Tenth anniversary of the Syrian uprising - "We will not abandon the Syrian people."
Today marks ten years since the Syrian people peacefully took to the streets calling for reform. The Assad regime’s response has been one of appalling violence. President Assad and his backers bear responsibility for the years of war and human suffering that followed. We praise the brave individuals and organizations who over the last ten years have exposed the truth from Syria, documented and pursued abuses, mass atrocities and grave violations of international law to hold the perpetrators accountable and delivered vital assistance to communities. That work remains essential.
After years of conflict, widespread corruption, and economic mismanagement, the Syrian economy is broken. More than half of the population, nearly 13 million Syrians depend upon humanitarian assistance. The millions of Syrian refugees, hosted generously by Syria’s neighbors, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt as well as those internally displaced cannot yet return home without fear of violence, arbitrary arrest, and torture. Continued conflict has also led to space for terrorists, particularly Daesh, to exploit. Preventing Daesh’s resurgence remains a priority.
It is imperative the regime and its supporters engage seriously in the political process and allow humanitarian assistance to reach communities in need. The proposed Syrian Presidential election this year will neither be free nor fair, nor should it lead to any measure of international normalization with the Syrian regime. Any political process needs the participation of all Syrians, including the diaspora and the displaced, to enable all voices to be heard.
We, the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, will not abandon the Syrian people. Our nations commit to reinvigorating the pursuit of a peaceful solution which protects the rights and future prosperity of all Syrians, based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Impunity is unacceptable and we will firmly continue to press for accountability for the most serious crimes. We will continue to support the important role of the Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism. We welcome the ongoing efforts by national courts to investigate and prosecute crimes within their jurisdiction committed in Syria. We will not tolerate Syria’s non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and fully support the work of the OPCW in this regard. We will continue to strongly call for a nationwide ceasefire, unhindered aid access through all possible routes to those in need, including through the renewal of UN Security Council Resolution 2533 and the cross-border mechanism by the UN Security Council, as well as the release of those arbitrarily detained, and free and fair elections under UN auspices with all Syrians participating, including members of the diaspora. To that end we reiterate our firm support for UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen’s efforts to deliver all aspects of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 as the only way to resolve this conflict. Clear progress towards an inclusive political process and an end to the repression of the Syrian people is essential. We cannot allow this tragedy to last another decade.
Statement by Mr. Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs
10th anniversary of the Syria conflict (March 15, 2021)
Ten years ago, tens of thousands of Syrians took peacefully to the streets to demand that their most fundamental rights be respected. The brutal, indiscriminate response from Bashar al-Assad’s regime and his role in the ensuing conflict triggered one of the most serious criminal enterprises and humanitarian crises since the Second World War.
Responsibility for this tragedy lies with the Syrian regime and its external supporters. The figures bear witness to the scale of the tragedy: over 400,000 Syrians have died, 13 million people – more than half the population – are refugees or displaced, and 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. France has continually supported the Syrian people since the conflict began. It will reaffirm its commitment in the framework of the next conference on the future of Syria (Brussels V) on 29 and 30 March 2021.
The Syria conflict marks the re-emergence of the use of chemical weapons, which has been banned for nearly a century. The Syrian regime’s documented and irrefutable use of these weapons on numerous occasions, including after its accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention in September 2013, is unacceptable – and will not be accepted. France, alongside its allies, took the necessary armed action in 2018. It remains fully mobilized to ensure that an appropriate response is provided, both within the framework of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and within the ad hoc framework of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons or with the national jurisdictions to which cases may have been referred. France is also playing its part to enable women and men to come and testify to these crimes.
France has long been committed to ensuring that no crimes committed in Syria go unpunished. This is a moral imperative and an unavoidable precondition for a long-term political solution in Syria. To this end, France will continue to support the work of the International Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism. Several investigations have also been started by the courts in both France and Germany. The French Government will make any contribution that may help further justice and combat impunity.
France intends to continue its resolute action against terrorism in Syria, alongside its partners in the Global Coalition Against Daesh and partner forces on the ground. In addition to its military aspect, this determined action requires the territories liberated from the terrorist group’s control to be stabilized, in order to prevent its resurgence.
France has been working actively with the Syrian people since the beginning of the conflict. In 2018, the French President allocated €50 million to an emergency programme to finance humanitarian and stabilization projects. Aimed at addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people, who are undergoing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, this annual aid was renewed in 2021 for the fourth consecutive year.
France, with its European Union partners, will continue to make the reconstruction of Syria and the normalization of relations with Damascus conditional on the implementation of a credible, lasting political solution in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254. The presidential election scheduled in Syria this year will be neither free nor legitimate. It cannot be used as a tool to circumvent this political solution. France, with its partners, will continue its action to bring about a political solution for a stable, sovereign Syria, in the service of the Syrian people.