France’s former foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius appears in Lafarge hearing on Syria

Laurent Fabius, France’s minister of foreign affairs between 2012 and 2016, appeared last week as a witness in the inquiry into the activities of cement manufacturer Lafarge (now LafargeHolcim) in Syria.

During his hearing, Fabius asserted that he was not aware of the actions of the company, which has been accused of funding terrorist groups.

Between 2012 and 2015, Lafarge was the last French company in Syria while the country sank into bitter civil war and chaos.

In an effort to bring down the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, Fabius had multiple exchanges with US counterpart John Kerry during summer of 2013 with the hope of mounting a military intervention … which never took place.

Fabius claims that he has no precise memory of the company being the only French firm operating in Syria at the time and that he was never informed of any issue concerning Lafarge or of the attack on its plant in Jalabiya.

However, the former minister admitted meeting Bruno Lafont, the CEO of Lafarge at the time, in his capacity as the head of sustainable development at the French employer federation MEDEF (Le Mouvement des Entreprises de France).

Fabius stated that he met Lafont four or five occasions between 2013 and December 2015 but Lafont never mentioned any such situation to him.

This story first appeared in Le Monde. July 2018.

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