Official speeches and statements - April 23, 2018
1. Russia - Syria - Telephone conversation between Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris - April 23, 2018)
The French President spoke on the telephone this morning to Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.
He recalled the legitimate framework of the operation conducted on April 14 with the United States and the United Kingdom against the Syrian regime’s chemical capabilities, in order for international law to be respected. It was necessary to combine our efforts to put a stop to the Syrian program and the regime’s acts of violence against its people.
He signaled France’s desire to increase efforts from now on, through dialogue with all the powers concerned, to trigger a credible political process and step up humanitarian action to help civilians, and he stressed in particular his desire to work with Russia on this.
This, among other things, is the purpose of the work under way at the United Nations Security Council, whose aim must be to unite the international community and shoulder our responsibilities together in order to restore peace to Syria.
The French President and the President of Russia also confirmed their desire to have a full bilateral and international agenda when the French President visits Russia on May 24 and 25.
At this time, OPCW investigators still have not had access to the site of the chemical weapons attack in Douma. If Russia and Syria finally keep their commitments, it will have taken them at least two weeks to do so. The OPCW team’s mission is to establish whether a chemical attack actually did take place and the type of chemical agent used. This obstructionism is obviously undermining the caliber of the investigation. It is most likely aimed at removing evidence and other material elements linked to the chemical attack on the very site where it took place. Full, immediate, and unhindered access must be granted to the OPCW team, as we have always demanded.
Over the past several days, Russia has been issuing contradictory official statements on the chemical attack in Douma. One day, it didn’t take place; the next day, it was carried out by armed groups; the day after that, it was Western manipulation. There’s no concern for consistency or truth, because it’s all about sowing doubt and confusion. Russia is now spreading videos featuring children, while the attacks took the lives of more than 45 people and left a large number of others injured.
As I have repeated a number of times:
- France has gathered numerous authenticated witness accounts of the chemical attacks in Douma on April 7;
- Medical NGOs found evidence of chemical attacks on the victims;
- Numerous photographs and videos that are consistent with one another have been authenticated by our experts;
- The symptoms of more than 500 patients who turned up at treatment facilities on Saturday definitely corresponded to the effects of gas. The WHO itself noted this and our laboratories confirmed the chemical attack.
As for responsibility, we have received confirmation that Syrian officers coordinated these attacks to accelerate their takeover of the sector. Our national assessment, consisting of technical analyses of open-source information and declassified intelligence obtained by French services, can be consulted online at: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/180414_-_syria_-fr_national_assessment-_english-version_cle0c76b5.pdf.