Europe’s efforts in Syria failed and need to be reviewed to include Russia, Iran and the government of Bashar Assad into the talks, said Francois Fillon, who leads the race to become the presidential candidate for France’s center-right.




“Did our actions help to put an end to this violence? No, and we have to admit it and start looking for another way to act,” the former prime minister, who won the first round of center-right presidential primaries over the weekend, said late Thursday.


As an alternative to the current European policy toward Syria, Fillon suggested direct talks involving all major forces involved in the Syrian conflict. Paris refused to hold any kind of negotiations with the government of Bashar Assad since the crisis in Syria broke out in 2011.


‘In order to stop this war, we need to involve Russia in negotiations with Europe. We need to talk with Iran because, regardless of the country’s flaws, it plays a key role in the Syrian conflict. We also need to finally accept the idea that, possibly, a certain kind of interim agreement will be concluded in order to seal the status quo and at least stop the violence,” he said during televised debates before the second round of primaries.


The first round of center-right primaries in France was held Sunday. Fillon came first, gathering 44.1% of the vote. In the second round on November 27, he will face Alain Juppe, a centrist popular with the left, who gained 28.6% of the vote in the first round.


The presidential election in France is to be held in April or May 2017. According to analysts and opinion polls, the center-right opposition candidate, who is currently being chosen, is most likely to win them.