Since the 17th century, French has been considered the language of diplomacy. France has been instrumental in dictating the course of international relations, and continues to be a critical player in defining the future, as illustrated in World Policy Journal Fall 2015 article, “Syria: The Real Stakes.”
Four French lawmakers met with Bashar al-Assad four years after the unsuccessful rebellion to end his rule. Jacques Myard, one of those MPs who attended the meeting, provides a new lens through which to view Syria’s actions and future, taking special note that Assad “expressed himself with ease in French.” Given the importance of French in diplomatic negotiations, World Policy Journal has compiled a list of necessary terms that are vital for any aspiring diplomat wanting to make his mark on the international scene.
Cooperation | Coopération – The interaction of two or more international actors working toward a common goal or outcome. The lawmakers and Assad both had the objective of ending the influence of the Islamic State in Syria and the Middle East; Myard makes it clear that if Western countries want peace in the region, they need to target the “real enemy,” even if it means cooperating with Syria, Russia, and Iran.
“French cultural presence is the product of long and fruitful cooperation.”
Diplomacy | Diplomatie – International relations and negotiations as it relates to trade, war, economics, culture, environment, human rights, etc. France has a history of diplomatic relations in Syria dating back to a “landmark alliance” made in 1536 between Francis I and the Ottoman Empire. Between the two world wars, France maintained control over Syria following the end of the Ottoman Empire, with particular focus on protecting the interests of the Christian minority in the Middle East. France was also one of the first countries to break ties with Syria in 2012.
“Diplomacy is the art of talking with everyone in the world, even one’s enemies, and it must maintain a pragmatic tone.”
Embargo | Embargo – A partial or total ban on trade or other commercial, financial, or economic activity with another country. In May 2011, the European Union imposed a total embargo on arms and military equipment on Syria in response to the Syrian government’s violent repression of peaceful protests during the Syrian uprising.
“Some of France’s allies—Turkey, certain Arab states in the Persian Gulf—and France itself beginning in 2012, ventured in secret and despite the EU’s embargo, to deliver arms to insurgents.”
The International Community | La Communauté Internationale – The group of governments or states globally, usually used to imply a shared view. In a 1999 speech at the U.N., then Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressed the existence of the international community and the skeptics who say it is too vague to have a real meaning, and stated that the driver behind an effective international community is political will to do good with the resources and institutions that currently exist.
“The deterioration of the situation is a cruel illustration of the helplessness of what we conveniently call ‘the international community’ and of France.”
Parliamentary Delegation | La Délégation Parlementaire – An international visit by a member or members of parliament in the interest of discussing international affairs. According to the Foreign Policy Journal, international relations is moving away from solely being the business of foreign ministries. The role of parliaments has widened in diplomacy as it relates to “institutional competence”nand the “internal political scene.”
“On Feb. 25, during a trip to Syria with a French parliamentary delegation, I met with Bashar al-Assad.”
“After all, parliamentary diplomacy can be a useful tool for democracy.”
Regime | Régime – An authoritarian government or a dictatorship. Assad’s regime is supported by the Alawite minority in Syria who fear ISIS as the primary challenger to Assad’s regime as they are seizing more control of Alawite areas and military installations than other rival factions. Foreign policy experts also fear this outcome; Myard himself stresses that severing all diplomatic ties to the regime cuts off an important tool in fighting terrorism, and therefore handling the situation delicately is a must.
“I’m by no means defending the ruler of Damascus. It is clear that his is a police regime with blood on its hands.”