FRANCE - SYRIA

Hollande condemns French MPs’ visit to Syria

President François Hollande (L) and Prime Minister Manuel Valls strongly criticized the visit of four French MPs to Syria on Thursday 26 February 2015.
President François Hollande (L) and Prime Minister Manuel Valls strongly criticized the visit of four French MPs to Syria on Thursday 26 February 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls strongly criticized on Thursday the visit of four French MPs to Syria. Three of them spoke with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was called a “dictator” and a “butcher” by the government.

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Hollande who is currently in the Philippines' capital, Manila, for a State visit solemnly declared: “This initiative, I condemn it.”

“This is a visit by French MPs, who were not asked to make this trip, with a dictator who started one of the most serious civil wars of these past years that killed 200,000 people. 200,000!,” the President said.

This trip is a first since the breaking of diplomatic relations between France and Syria in May 2012.

The four MPs are all members of the Franco-Syrian friendship parliamentary group. They are guilty of “misconduct,” Valls said on French TV news channel BFM TV.

“MPs represent national sovereignty, they represent what our country is,” the prime minister added. “The fact that, without telling anyone, they met with a butcher”, “I believe it’s morally wrong”.

The cross-party delegation of MPs will be back in France on Thursday afternoon.

Jacques Myard and Gérard Bapt, two of the four MPs, took responsibility for this visit.

On French radio France Inter, Bapt argued that this “strictly private visit” was an “explorative trip in order to find a path to understanding and peace” with Syria's Assad government.

 

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