Solution for Syria is not force – Dominique de Villepin

Dominique de Villepin gathered international acclaim by opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq during his tenure as France’s Foreign Minister. The former FM, PM and career diplomat told RT diplomacy, and not intervention is needed to stem the Syrian crisis.

RT:Previously you were warning against intervention in Syria. What’s your position now, do you believe this chemical disarmament plan is a move that can permanently prevent military strikes?

Dominique de Villepin: I do believe that we have a window of opportunity that we should seize. Negotiation is now going on and I think we should do our best to avoid the use of force. We know that the force without law and the force without diplomatic effort is always useless. That's why the priority today is negotiations, but we should go forward and we should have results. Today we have one result which is the signature by the Syrian regime of the convention on the ban of the chemical weapons. That's the first step. But that's not enough. We should keep in mind the fact that the main objective of these negotiations is to protect Syrian people. People are dying every day in Syria and we had in the last two years 110,000 people dying. We should keep this in mind and that's why diplomacy now must be a success.

RT:Washington is convinced Syria agreed to be disarmed only because of the real threat of being attacked. Bashar al Assad says that's not the case. What do you think?

DV: I think your firmness is part of the game, it is showing some results. I think the main factor is the willingness of Russia to take responsibility. Russia taking the lead, Russia making some proposals, this is really changing the whole figure, the whole physiognomy of the situation. So we should look forward to see how now we can have in between the discussion between John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov some result. I think all the players should be proposing and I hope French diplomacy will during the next days will also be in its traditional position, in a position of mediation, proposing. I think everybody should be looking forward to try to find some peaceful solution to this situation.

RT:But still, the threat of military force is now a stumbling block in negotiations. Assad wants the threats to end, while Washington wants to keep the possibility of strikes on the table. What's the way out of this?

DV: We know that military strikes are not easy. First, because there is no majority in the Congress favoring the use of force. Second, because we know that in the last 13 years the use of force did not give any results at an international scene. We've seen it in Afghanistan, we've seen it in Iraq, we've seen it in Libya. So we know that the solution for Syria is not force. And we know also that there is a way to escape from force, from a use of an attack, and this way out is to have some results on the ground, some diplomatic results in order to find better solutions for Syrian problem. So now I think the game is in the hands of the diplomacy, in the hands of political responsibles, and that's why we should look forward. The problem of force is something else. I think that we can find an alternative to force if we are all willing to go forward and try to have new steps that would allow us find a solution for Syria.

RT:Could any other interests be behind the US and its allies wanting to strike Syria beyond just punishing Assad for the chemical attack he allegedly committed?

DV: First, we know that punishing Assad should not be by force. For that we have the international legality we have the international penal court, so the answer to punish is never to use force, the answer to punish is to go through justice, that's the real issue. But the main problem today is to try to protect Syrian people, and for that the force is not going to give us any answer. Force would mean more people dying on the ground, it would mean new escalation, we should not forget that not only we have a civil war in Syria, but we have a big fight between Sunnis and Shias. So the problem is not at the level of the use of force, and we have seen in Iraq that force has only created more problems, we have 1,000 people dying every month in Iraq, so I don't think force is an answer. And if the western countries, if the US, if France and the Europeans can see that there are some results, and again this is the key - to avoid force it is necessary to have some results on the ground, some results during the negotiations. And that's quite clear today we know what we should do.

RT:During the lead up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, you as French Foreign Minister were among the most vocal opponents. And now, with Syria, your country has a completely different position. Is it because the circumstances are so different - or is France playing politics now?

DV: Well, yes, I'm afraid the situation is a little different. But I think also that everybody does know that force is not the real answer, and we know that the public opinions are not in favor of force. That's why I think that we are all expecting Moscow to really deliver some results and to put more pressure on Assad. Nobody can be satisfied with the war going on, nobody can be satisfied with the tensions in the region. And the answer is diplomacy, but diplomacy does not mean that nothing should happen, diplomacy means we should be able to go forward both to have the chemical weapons getting out of Syria and second, to find some new answers because we know that the solution is political. Some new political answers as well as some humanitarian answer. So of course some people in the western world are still talking about force and force and firmness is an element at this stage, but the answer is to use diplomacy to have steps going forward and that would eliminate the risk of force if we can have peace again in this region