PARIS (Reuters) - Europe must live up to the challenge of an upheaval that has forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee Syria, where everyone including Iran, Russia and the West must seek a political solution, French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday.
Speaking alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Hollande said the risk of failure was "total war" and that Europe, if slow to grasp the scale of the refugee exodus, had now made a start.
As for Syria, Hollande reiterated the Paris line that any solution for Syria had to be based on an alternative to President Bashar al-Assad.
"What's happening in Syria concerns Europe because what is going on there will determine the balances of power in the region for a long time," he said.
"If we let the recent religious confrontations between Shiites and Sunnites get worse then don't think that we won't be affected. It will be a total war, a war that will also affect our territories and we must act."
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald and Leigh Thomas; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Toby Chopra)