French Foreign Minister Catherine Colon on Tuesday called for the prosecution of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for ordering the use of chemical weapons and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians during the country’s civil war.
Colono lashed out at Assad during an interview with France 2 television.
She said the 57-year-old should be brought to justice, adding: “Fighting crime, fighting impunity is part of French diplomacy.”
Assad returned to the geopolitical scene last week, speaking at the Arab League summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was the first appearance in the regional block in ten years.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who opened the summit, acknowledged the painful years of fighting in Syria and added that he hoped the country’s rapprochement would bring greater stability to the region.
Pro-Assad social media users hailed Assad’s visit as a victory. They shared images of him smiling and shaking hands with fellow Arab leaders.
Despite the start of rehabilitation, Colonna said that the French government will not change its policy regarding the Syrian ruler.
🇸🇾🗣 “C’est un dirigeant qui est depuis plus de 10 ans l’ennemi de son peuple. Tant qu’il ne changera pas, il n’y a pas de raison qu’il redevienne un interlocuteur pour la France”
Catherine Colonna sur Bachar al-Assad. #Les4V @MinColonna pic.twitter.com/dHskq30oFE
— Telematin (@telematin) May 23, 2023
“We must remember who Bashar al-Assad is. This is a leader who has been an enemy of his people for more than 10 years,” she said.
There are no plans to lift EU sanctions against the Syrian regime, she added.
“Until he changes, until he does reconciliation, the fight against terrorism, the fight against drugs … until he fulfills his obligations, there is no reason to change our attitude towards him,” Colonna said.
“I think it’s up to him, not France, to change our attitude,” she added.