Syrian people must have a say on their future, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel following a Syria summit in Istanbul, Macron underlined the importance of a permanent and sustainable cease-fire in Syria’s Idlib.
“It is not our business to decide for Syria but we can help Syrians make decisions about their future,” Macron said, emphasizing that conditions for Syrians to vote and determine their own future needed to be set up in a constitutional framework.
Macron said restructuring of an inclusive Syria “is very important.”
He added that without “a political solution” a repatriation process “cannot be convincing and inclusive”.
Macron accused the Syrian regime of acting on a logic of conquest in military terms and said it was not a fruitful approach to ensure stability in Syria.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
Macron said the use of chemical weapons both in the region and other parts of the world “is unacceptable regardless of who uses it.”
Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the conflict mainly by regime airstrikes targeting opposition-held areas while millions more were displaced. During the conflict, Assad regime was accused many times by various international actors of targeting Syrian civilians with chemical weapons.
The French president also called for a comprehensive investigation on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and urged for sanctions.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, had gone missing since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After days of denying to know his whereabouts, Saudi Arabia last week claimed Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate.
But Khashoggi’s body has not been recovered, and Riyadh has yet to explain its shifting narrative on what transpired.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, 15 other Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while he was still inside, according to Turkish police sources. All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.
Erdogan on Tuesday laid out his country’s initial findings in its investigation, saying Khashoggi’s murder was “premeditated”.
By Sibel Ugurlu and Sorwar Alam