8 Sep 2011

France‘s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe: Military operation in Syria not being considered

France‘s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe talks about the future of the Libyan state, his country‘s position on the situation in Syria and the prospect of relaxing visa procedures for Russian citizens in an interview with Interfax.

The UN Security Council should lift sanctions and the arms embargo on Libya the moment the National Transitional Council asserts its authority all over Libya, he told Interfax after a meeting of the Russian-French Council for Cooperation in Foreign-Policy and Security Affairs.
"The embargo, like other sanctions, were imposed [on Libya] within the framework of Resolution 1970, passed by the UN Security Council at the start of the crisis. As the National Transitional Council is asserting its rights all across the territory and the threat to civilians is disappearing, we in the Security Council should think of lifting the sanctions," he said.
"We have launched this process already by starting to partially unfreeze bank accounts," he said.
Juppe also said that Muammar Gaddafi must be punished for the crimes he has committed against his own people.
"Gaddafi must be brought to justice for his crimes. The Libyan authorities must choose a punishment for Gaddafi on the basis of Resolution 1970," he said .
"The dead bodies found recently point to the extreme cruelty and atrocities, committed by the Gaddafi regime," he also said.
In line with Resolution 1970 of the UN Security Council, the files on the situation in Libya have been referred to the international criminal court, which in June 2011 issued the mandate to arrest Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi, the chief of Libya‘s secret services, for the crimes against humanity they had committed, Juppe said.
Concerning the situation surrounding Syria, the French foreign minister said he does not think the Libyan scenario will repeat itself in Syria.
"A military operation is not even being considered today. There is no international mandate for it. In addition to this, the Syrian context differs strongly from the situation in Libya. But in this situation the UN Security Council cannot remain idle: the responsibility that rests on the Security Council‘s permanent members implies pressure on Bashar al-Assad," Juppe said. "France and its American, British and German allies have urged President Bashar al-Assad to step down as he discredited his regime by cruel reprisals against citizens. Therefore, France heads an international movement which aims to put political and financial pressure on the Syrian leadership," Juppe said.
Regarding Iran he said that the sextet of international mediators must work to ensure that Iran, if it wants to create an atmosphere of trust in the dialogue on its nuclear program, take concrete steps to do so, instead of limiting itself to verbal statements,
"We have yet to receive a reply to a letter, written by [EU foreign policy chief ] Catherine Ashton on behalf of the sextet and handed over to Iran in July. Since Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi last visited Moscow, Iran has continued making provocative statements," Juppe said.
"In this connection the sextet must work out a serious and clear-cut approach: all of us are responsible for regional stability and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons," he said.
"The sextet has taken the first step. While imposing sanctions it proposed starting a dialogue on aiding Iran in promoting its civilian nuclear program and on Iran‘s efforts to create an atmosphere of trust. The Iranian authorities must back these proposals with concrete action, not merely by words or meetings that have no content," Juppe said.
When asked about the prospect of relaxing visa procedures for Russian citizens, Juppe said that France wants short-term entry visa arrangements between Russia and Schengen zone countries to be abolished and hopes that talks to that effect will essentially be over this year.
"[French] Prime Minister Francois Fillon made a statement about the loosening of the visa regime at a meeting of the French-Russian intergovernmental commission lat year, and it has come into force already," Juppe said.
"France has decided to simplify to the utmost the formalities needed for obtaining visas in the spirit of our European commitments, including formalities for the issue of long-term visas to persons who have held Schengen visas," he said.