Paris, November 16, 2011
As I’ve said, for months France has been incessantly condemning the crackdown in Syria: over 3,500 deaths since the beginning of November, tens of thousands of prisoners and an admirable people that continues the struggle by rejecting violence.
I was one of the very first to call for Bashar al-Assad’s departure. We supported the opposition, whose main leaders I have met here in Paris.
With the Europeans, we have already enforced nine rounds of sanctions, an arms embargo, an embargo on oil imports and a ban on deliveries of banknotes to the Central Bank of Syria.
At the United Nations, we tried to get a draft resolution adopted which, as you said, met with Russian opposition.
At the General Assembly we’re working with the Arab League to get a draft resolution adopted and we support the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry.
The regime is digging its heels in. Fresh violence has occurred in Syria, and this has led me to close our consular agencies in Aleppo and Latakia and our cultural institutes, and I’ve recalled our ambassador to Paris.
But a turning-point has doubtless just been reached, with the decisions by the Arab League, which has suspended Syria and taken economic and political sanctions and is inviting the opposition to Cairo.
A meeting of the Arab League is being held in Rabat this very day.
The King of Jordan has just called on Bashar al-Assad to step down, and Turkey is imposing tougher sanctions.
So you can see that the noose is tightening around this completely “autistic” regime, which is still carrying out a bloody crackdown. I’m convinced the Syrian people will win their battle, and France will go on doing everything possible to help them with that.