[Posted by Lara Keller 17/10/16]

Grossly inadequate EU Foreign Ministers Statement On Syria 17th October 2016

The  EU Foreign Ministers Statement On Syria 17th October 2016 can be obtained from  http://www.consilium.europa.eu/press-releases-pdf/2016/10/47244648963_en.pdf

It displays a gross mismatch between the situation described in Syria, and the proposed actions. Here are some extracts:

Section 2 ……The EU therefore strongly condemns the excessive and disproportionate attacks by the regime and its allies, both deliberate and indiscriminate, against civilian populations, humanitarian and healthcare personnel and civilian and humanitarian infrastructures and calls on them to cease indiscriminate aerial bombardments. The EU condemns the continued systematic, widespread and gross violations and abuses of human rights and all violations of international humanitarian law by all parties, particularly the Syrian regime and its allies….The EU looks forward to the findings of the internal UN board of inquiry. Those responsible for such violations and abuses must be held accountable.

Section 3. In these deteriorating circumstances, the EU calls urgently for: an end of all military flights over Aleppo city; an immediate cessation of hostilities to be monitored by a strong and transparent mechanism; sieges to be lifted; and full unhindered sustainable country-wide humanitarian access granted by all parties……

Section 4. ….The use of starvation of civilians through the besiegement of populated areas for which the regime bears the greatest responsibility, as a tactic of war, and forced population transfers are a clear breach of international humanitarian law and must stop…..

Section 5. The EU firmly believes that there can be no military solution to the conflict. The EU reiterates its commitment to the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Syrian state. Recalling its Conclusions of 23 May 2016, the EU actively participates in the ISSG and its taskforces and fully supports the UN Special Envoy de Mistura in the efforts to create the conditions for resumption of intra-Syrian talks, noting his proposal for Eastern Aleppo. The EU recognises the efforts made to re-establish a full cessation of hostilities and regrets that they have not yet succeeded and encourage further attempts to do so…..The EU urges again the Syrian regime to finally lay out its plan of truly implementing a genuine political transition…..

Section 6. The Council calls on Russia, including as co-chair of the ISSG, to demonstrate through policies and actions all efforts, in order to halt indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian regime, restore a cessation of hostilities, ensure immediate and expanded humanitarian access and create the conditions for a credible and inclusive political transition.

Section 7. …………The EU and its Member States will seek to explore possibilities of concerted action inter alia [among which other things?] through the UN General Assembly. In this context, the EU will act swiftly, according to established procedures, with the aim of imposing further  restrictive measures [ie sanctions] against Syria targeting Syrian individuals and entities supporting the regime as long as the repression continues.

The EU foreign ministers statement describes the catastrophe in Syria caused by the Assad and Putin regimes. Then it condemns, calls and urges and will impose further sanctions. It is painfully obvious that this is gravely inadequate.

They state there is no militarily solution in Syria. This does not mean there is a purely non military solution in Syria. Assad and Putin will only take the political process seriously when they have no hope of a military victory. This means there must be the threat of military retaliation for gross war crimes, such as the bombing of civilians in Aleppo. A mechanism for this is clearly described by Syria Solidarity UK briefing http://www.syriauk.org/2016/10/briefing-how-can-no-fly-zone-work.html .

The problem of Putin’s regime  (allegedly with Chinese financial backing) backing for Assad regime’s brutal mass murder against a population demanding representative government  cannot be confined to Syria. Embattled dictators, in a post cold war ideologically neutral world, will have an ally in Putin for mass murder, with a regime  who has no restrictions. Ignore effective action in Syria and there will be a growing number of these crises, with a greater danger attached to action by the West.



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