Chemical Weapons in Syria : We Have Entered Negociations
Syria/Colombia - Remarks to the press by François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 5 April 2017
With respect to the chemical weapons in Syria and our draft resolution, the new element is that we have entered into a negotiation, a true negotiation. Number one.
Number two, it’s always difficult to say because we are in the middle of the road, but these negotiations are going on in a good spirit, I would say. Whether we will be able to conclude and when, I can’t tell you at this stage. But we are working as we speak, with our colleagues, again in a good spirit. And our objective – here I speak for France, by definition – is to go for a vote, the sooner the better, as soon as we are ready, if we are. And we want a swift and strong resolution.
Q: Is Russia working with you or are they submitting a separate draft?
Of course, when I say we have entered into a negotiation, it means Russia is part of it.
Q: But they had so many changes in the Council. Ambassador Safronkov was talking about all the different things they wanted, I mean it was a completely different resolution what he was talking about in the Council.
That’s why I don’t tell you we are there yet.
Q: How long do you think it will take?
Impossible to say.
Q: Are you confident there will be a vote tomorrow?
Confident would be too much to say, let’s say I hope so, the sooner, the better.
Q: Would you say not likely today?
Not likely today. It would be wonderful, but I doubt it a little bit.
Q: Can you comment on the American Ambassador saying “each State is compelled to do now on their own action”? If there is no action by the Security Council? What do you make of that, how do you interpret it?
It is not up to me of course to interpret Nikki Haley’s comment. The truth of the matter is that yes we have to use every channel that we have, we the 15 members of the Security Council, as a leverage vis-à-vis the parties and those who can influence the regime in particular.
Q: Ambassador, is it time for unilateral action or is there a danger of unilateral action?
It’s time for action, no doubt about it.
It is time for action of the Security Council. It would be by far the best action if we could have unity of the Council. That is what we are working on as we speak.
Q: But what are the chances of achieving a unity on this resolution?
Difficult to say. I personally think there is a chance, if we all roll up our sleeves, that’s what we do, if we all are ready to compromise, then I think there is a chance. But whether we will be collectively able to seize this opportunity, frankly I don’t know.
Q: Are you concerned about unilateral action?
I am concerned by inaction at this stage, by the risk of inaction. I think action should be the motto for everybody. Concerted and collective action would be the best.
Q: North Korea, what’s the latest on North Korea? Is there going to be any reaction on the launch of the missiles yesterday?
We reacted on a national basis as far as France is concerned. You should ask the American Presidency on that. As you know, we are on the tough side with respect to North Korea and always willing to have a swift and strong reaction of the Security Council. But whether it’s in the pipeline or not, you should ask Nikki Haley and her team.
Q: In terms of Syria, we’ve seen a big shift on Donald Trump’s position concerning Assad’s regime.
I can’t comment on that. The only thing I can say is that we need an America that is committed to world affairs in general, committed to a solution in Syria in particular. Now is the time, there is no time to waste. We need an America that is seriously committed to a solution in Syria and that puts all its weight behind it. It not now, when ?
Q: What is there about the American foreign policy today that leads the French Ambassador to the UN to say we need an America that is active?
Because I’ve told you we need collective action, we need everybody on board, and America is on every issue a very powerful player. And the fact that America is ready to put its whole weight behind the political process can make a difference.
Q: What is the strongest form of action you would like America to take?
First things first, at the Security Council, if we can have a resolution, that would be the best.
Q: What were you going to say about Colombia in this afternoon’s meeting?
Three quick messages:
First of all, a message of profound solidarity after the tragic events which have occurred in the region of Mocoa a few days ago.
Second, a message of support to the parties in Colombia for the implementation of the peace agreement. We commend the recent movement of the FARC in the demobilizing zones. It is a major step forward. We hope that it will soon be followed by the completion of the laying down of arms of the FARC as well as by concrete measures in favor of the civil reintegration of the FARC. It is crucial that the parties abide by their commitments and preserve the current momentum. There is a very positive momentum going on in Colombia.
And three, a message to commend the work of the UN on this ‘dossier’. The mission is now fully deployed and makes a real difference on the ground. SRSG Jean Arnault is doing a superb job. The Council will visit Colombia in the coming weeks. I think it is fair to say that the UN has lived up to the expectations set out by the Colombians in terms of accomplishment of the peace process. The UN is part of the ongoing success story in Colombia and I think it’s worth underscoring in today’s difficult times.