French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on Russia on Saturday to stop bombing civilians in Syria, asserting that this was crucial for restoring peace in the country.
“France respects Russia and its interests … But we know that to find the path to peace again, the Russian bombing of civilians has to stop,” Valls said in a speech at a security conference in Munich.
Late last month, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 1,015 civilians had been killed in Russian air strikes.
However, Russia has consistently denied the accusations as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said “no evidence of our bombing civilians, even though everyone is accusing us of this”.
Russia was “not trying to achieve some secret goals in Syria”, Medvedev said at a security conference in Munich. “We are trying to protect our national interests”.
Valls also cautioned that the European project could “disappear” if policymakers were not careful.
“The European project can go backwards or even disappear if we don’t take care of it,” he said. “If Europe doesn’t show it can respond, not only to economic challenges but also to security challenges, then the European project will be finished because the people won’t want it anymore.”