France will not give up on what it is : a free country - 16 November 2015 [fr]
Security Council - The humanitarian situation in Syria - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 16 November 2015
Allow me to start by thanking all the speakers for their briefings — Mr. O’Brien, Ms. Zerrougui and Ms. Bangura. They remind us, with their untiring work, how many civilians, women and children, suffer directly in Syria.
I would also like to warmly thank all those who extended to my country their sympathy and solidarity following the horrible attacks committed on 13 November. On that day, France was struck at its heart in Paris and in Saint-Denis by terrorist attacks that were masterminded and planned in Syria. The toll, as the Council knows, was heavy — at least 129 dead, over 300 injured and many people who, right now as we speak, are still hanging on between life and death. France has received a great many gestures of solidarity and friendship from the world over. Those gestures and messages touch us deeply and illustrate the unanimous support of the international community for my country.
France was not the only one to be lethally attacked Friday evening; at least 19 different nationalities were affected. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims, both in France and throughout the world. Our thoughts also go to all the families who have been affected in recent months by a terrorism that knows no colour or religion: Lebanon, Turkey, Denmark, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and still other countries.
I speak to the Council as the representative of a country that is still standing, united and more determined than ever. It is determined to combat terrorism relentlessly and with respect for the law. Liberty, equality, fraternity — the motto of the French Republic — has never had more meaning. France is a free country and an independent country. It is pluralistic and strong in its diversity. That is the France that was struck on 13 November.
The enemy is known, namely, Daesh. That organization feeds on ethnic and religious divisions in the region and is reinforced by hatred and the rejection of the other. It oppresses and murders entire populations in the Middle East on a daily basis and is methodically and systematically destroying the unique cultural wealth of the region, which is the common heritage of humankind.
Faced with that situation, we must be guided by two complementary objectives. First, there is a need for a resolute and determined fight against terrorism and Daesh. The entire international community must be united in that fight. As the President of the Republic said this morning, France will convene a meeting of the Security Council to adopt a draft resolution aimed at combating terrorism. President Hollande also called for togetherness, within the framework of a great and unique international coalition to combine our strength and our means to destroy Daesh, which is our common enemy. We must put an end to those who destroy in such a determined, methodological, professional and tenacious way.
With regard to the search for a political solution in Syria, that is more necessary than ever. Syria has become the largest factory of terrorists that the world has ever known. The members of the Security Council and the countries of the region must unite to urgently implement a political transition in Syria in which Bashar Al-Assad is not part of the solution. There is an urgent need to achieve concrete progress in the humanitarian field and to demand respect for international humanitarian law, whether it be humanitarian access or the cessation of all indiscriminate attacks against civilians. In Vienna, France made a number of concrete proposals on that subject aimed at alleviating the suffering of the civilian population at a time when the situation on the ground, which is already alarming, is further deteriorating. As has been stated by others, the resolutions adopted by the Council must be implemented without delay.
It is crucial that we stand united, once again, to address those two goals.
The refugee crisis is one of the most direct consequences of the humanitarian catastrophe. If the current situation goes on, it will create a highly destabilizing situation. It is more important than ever to assist the countries along Syria’s border, which have welcomed the greatest number of Syrian refugees. I wish to pay tribute to them.
In addition to the countries of the region, Europe is on the front line. The inhabitants of Iraq and Syria, in particular in territories controlled by Daesh, are fleeing because they are being tortured. Welcoming them with dignity is a moral obligation for Europe out of respect for the fundamental freedoms and the principles of law that are fundamental for Europe.
Despite the tragic events and the attempts at destabilization, France will never renounce what it is, namely, a free country. It will never renounce its values. We will overcome this trial. We, the international community, must stand united and defend together these universal principles. France’s determination is absolute.