The Syrian National Council meets with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and the EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs
The French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppé, received on Wednesday, the 23rd of November, a Syrian National Council delegation, headed by Dr. Burhan Ghalioun. The talks dealt with the developments in Syria, including the French position. The delegation expressed gratitude to the French minister on the efforts by France to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and the leading role of France in working with international organizations to isolate the Syrian regime. The French Minister promised to continue pressing on the Syrian regime to stop the massacres it is committing against the unarmed people of Syria. The minister also provided a summary of the efforts that France has undertaken to obtain a UN resolution condemning the repressive practices of the regime and opening the way for mechanisms to protect civilians, which is the main demand of the Syrian National Council.
During the debate over the possibility of sending international observers to protect civilians, the French minister noted the resentment of Arab and European countries of the unresponsiveness of the Syrian regime to any initiatives regarding this matter, which is what is pushing the international community to consider other mechanisms, in light of the increasingly deteriorating humanitarian condition in some places, like Homs. The two sides searched for a possibility of finding safe outlets to deliver humanitarian assistance to stricken areas, which are the target of operations of repression and torture by the regime’s security and Shabiha (armed state-hired civilians). These safe outlets would be consistent with legal international principles that hold the international community responsible of protecting civilians. The delegation also briefed the French minister of the Council’s tireless efforts, through the Arab League, to complete its structural organization and present its vision for the transitional period, which includes Bashar al-Assad stepping down and a peaceful transition of power to a transitional government that leads the country to a democratic pluralistic system. During a press conference that included minister Juppé and Dr. Ghalioun, the French minister said that his meeting with the Council’s delegation is recognition of the Council as a legitimate entity with which the French government will deal during this stage of the Syrian people’s struggle for their freedom and dignity.
The Syrian National Council delegation, headed by Dr. Ghalioun, also met on Tuesday, the 22nd of November with Catherine Asthon, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, with the Chairman of the European Commission on Peace and Security, and with representatives of the 27 member states in the European Union. During these meetings, the most important issues about the Syrian situation were discussed, starting from clarification of the Russian position – following the Council’s visit to Russia – and the possibility of developing this position and explanations thereof. The Arab position was also discussed, where it was noted that the Europeans had expected the united Arab position to influence the Russian and Chinese positions. The Council’s delegation requested from Europe to find a solution to the Syrian situation, as Europeans have had a long history of protecting civilians and have the tools and techniques that enable them to play a practical and direct role in this context with humanitarian aid and medical assistance.
Representatives of the Union’s member states expressed their respect for the great Syrian people who are continuously sacrificing their lives. The representatives also expressed their support for tougher sanctions against the regime. The National Council will present to the European Union further proposals in this regard. All sides also discussed some inquiries regarding the Council’s plan for toppling the regime; putting in place safeguards to protect the rights of religious and ethnic minorities; and the position regarding the Free Syrian Army with the need to adhere to the peaceful nature of the Revolution and only supporting operations that protect civilians (in Homs, for example). The Council confirmed the importance of having the military under the control of civilians in Syria in the future, and that the Council is the political representative of the Free Syrian Army.