Robert Harneis -TDO- (FRANCE)In a deliberate departure from the policy of his predecessor Hollande, President Macron told a press conference with European journalists.
“The new perspective that I have had on this subject is that I have not stated that Bashar al-Assad’s departure is a pre-condition for everything because nobody has shown me a legitimate successor,”.
He also indicated that France would be returning to a more traditional Gaullist independent foreign policy speaking critically of ‘neo-conservative’ interventionism and the failed states is has created saying “What was the outcome of these interventions? Failed states in which terrorist groups flourished. I do not want that in Syria”.
He added “My lines are clear: Firstly, a complete fight against all the terrorist groups. They are our enemies,” he said. “We need everybody’s cooperation, especially Russia, to eradicate them.”
Picking his words with great care, he was careful to show respect for US President Trump. He criticized Obama for failing to react to the notorious 2013 Ghoutta chemical attack, an attack which he well knows was anything but proven. He then confirmed that France would act if necessary alone against the source of any 'proven' chemical weapons use in Syria. At the same time, he said that France would act in 'complete alignment with the United States'.
His remarks on Syria were only part of a larger question and answer session much of which related to France and French policy within the EU. Never the less he clearly intended to end the 'Assad must go' rhetoric favored by François Hollande and his very belligerent Foreign Secretary Laurent Fabius, much criticized in France for his comment that 'Al Nusrah is doing good work in Syria' and his call for Assad to be assassinated -'there is no place on this earth for Bashar Al Assad'.
The fact that the interview took place after the French elections indicates that they it was not mere grand standing to impress electors but a serious attempt to put French policy on a new footing.