President calls on Europeans to condemn Syria chemical attacks

Syria – Press briefing by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, on his arrival at the G20 summit

St Petersburg, 5 September 2013

G20 summit/French goals

Q. – What are France’s goals during this G20 summit ?

THE PRESIDENT – The challenge of the G20 is to continue exerting pressure to create more growth, more jobs. On this, France’s positions have helped bring results.

The challenge is also to take another step on fighting tax evasion at international level and on the principles of transparency. It’s to have regulation of finance. This is a topic I’ve also been promoting for more than a year and which will be partially realized with the support of a good number of countries.

Finally, it’s to be able to put the Climate Conference – which France will be organizing in 2015 – at the heart of the next meetings.

But it’s true the G20 is being dominated by what’s happening internationally, and by the Syria crisis. So we’ll be having a number of discussions between heads of state – for example, as far as I’m concerned, with Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin – so that we can also have progress at political level. Even if our responses to the chemical attack aren’t the same for the moment, we must do everything to ensure there are political solutions.

Finally, there will be a meeting in a few hours’ time with those Europeans who are present, because I also want the condemnation we’re making of the chemical attack committed by the regime also to be expressed by all Europeans.

Q. – On the European side, precisely, Mr Van Rompuy said that he hoped to have a common path in Europe. Are you yourself going to try and get Mr Putin to shift his position ? Are you hoping to rally other Europeans to your position in favour of an intervention ?

THE PRESIDENT – It has already been widely agreed at European level that a chemical attack is unacceptable. The Europeans now want guarantees that the regime was indeed responsible. Many are waiting for [the results of] the UN inspectors’ mission in particular.

So we’re going to make sure Mr Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, can issue the results of the inspectors’ investigation as swiftly as possible, even though we know that the investigation focuses on the existence of chemical weapons – well, the existence of “chemical products”, which, sadly, were the cause of this massacre – without having a clear mandate to find out who is responsible.

It is very important for the Europeans here today at the G20 to take the same position together of condemning the use of chemical weapons and condemning the regime which has used them.

After this, we won’t necessarily adopt the same standpoint. Why ? Because there are countries like France which are able to intervene and others which, because of their situation or their own will, don’t want to or can’t./.

Related story :

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Syria/Syrian chemical programme – National executive summary of declassified intelligence
(PDF - 80.7 ko)

This document has been produced through declassified intelligence mostly drawn from French-only sources. It includes a thorough technical analysis performed on open sources by our intelligence and technical services. It integrates, finally, some complementary elements received through cooperation with our closest partners.

Dernière modification : 08/09/2013

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