Across the Bay

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

France: No New Page with Syria

For those of you counting the number of times the Syrian regime's propagandists announced an imminent "deal," and for those who follow that ever-continuous search for that ever-elusive "deal," add this item to your archives.

France seems "far" from the moment when it would reconsider French-Syrian relations. French sources told Asharq al-Awsat that Paris "won't make any initiative towards Syria so long as the investigation into the assassination of Hariri has not yet concluded and since Damascus has not yet been cleared of any responsibility in it.

The source added, "we insist that Syria deal with Lebanon as an independent and sovereign country and to practically respect what the UN Security Council asked of it, and that it refrain from harming Lebanese stability in any way."

The report added quotes by the spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry that underplayed the significance of Brammertz's calling Syrian cooperation "generally satisfactory," saying that this cooperation "was only confined to the time period covered by the report," adding, "France wants to see Syria cooperate in the future since the investigation is not yet over."

The UNSC will vote tomorrow (with French, British, and European backing) to extend Brammertz's commission for another year and expand the investigation's mandate to cover all other 14 bombings that happened prior to and after the Hariri assassination, including the attempts on Marwan Hamade, Elias Murr, and May Chidiac, as well as the assasination of Samir Kassir, George Hawi, and Gebran Tueni and the 8 other bombings that targeted various neighborhoods in Lebanon.

The draft resolution could be read here in Arabic.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament will also be meeting tomorrow to vote on a resolution on Human Rights in Syria. The draft recommends that the EU-Syria Association Agreement be suspended if Syria fails to respect "democratic principles and fundamental rights" and release prisoners of conscience. The resolution recalls that Article 2 of the Euro-Med Agreement conditions membership on respect for human rights and democratic principles. It notes that all the hopes (I always called them self-delusions which is what they really are) attached to Bashar Assad and his "reforms" have been disappointed and the human rights situation in Syria has deteriorated sharply especially this year.