EU 3106th Council meeting on Syria

3106th Coun­cil meet­ing, For­eign Affairs
Brus­sels, 18 July 2011
The Coun­cil exchanged views on the sit­u­a­tion in the EU’s South­ern Neigh­bour­hood, in the light of the lat­est devel­op­ments in the region. It adopt­ed the fol­low­ing con­clu­sions: Syr­ia

1. “The EU deplores the fact that the Syr­i­an lead­er­ship has cho­sen to ignore repeat­ed calls made by the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty and con­tin­ues its pol­i­cy of delib­er­ate vio­lent repres­sion of peace­ful pro­tes­tors. The EU reit­er­ates its con­dem­na­tion of this pol­i­cy in the strongest terms. The vio­lence must be stopped imme­di­ate­ly in order to pre­vent fur­ther bloodshed.

2. In this con­text, the EU calls for a polit­i­cal process lead­ing to rapid and con­crete imple­men­ta­tion of sub­stan­tial reforms, address­ing the legit­i­mate demands of Syr­i­an peo­ple on their way to a peace­ful, gen­uine and irre­versible tran­si­tion to democracy.

3. The EU salutes the deter­mi­na­tion and courage of the grow­ing num­ber of Syr­i­an peo­ple who con­tin­ue to voice their legit­i­mate aspi­ra­tions by peace­ful protests. They do so despite the increas­ing num­ber of casu­al­ties and report­ed cas­es of tor­ture and oth­er fla­grant human rights abus­es, some of which have been alleged by inde­pen­dent sources to be crimes against human­i­ty. This must be sub­ject to an inde­pen­dent, trans­par­ent and effec­tive inves­ti­ga­tion, as request­ed by the UNSG, and the per­pe­tra­tors of such acts must be held to account. The EU extends its sin­cere con­do­lences to all vic­tims and their families.

4. The EU con­demns the crack­down by the Syr­i­an secu­ri­ty forces in a num­ber of cities, most recent­ly in Hama. The EU urges Syria’s lead­er­ship to call off such secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions imme­di­ate­ly and refrain from the con­tin­ued use of force against civilians.

5. The EU recalls that Pres­i­dent Al-Assad promised to launch a Nation­al Dia­logue and notes that the first meet­ings took place. How­ev­er, the Syr­i­an regime still has to ful­fil all legit­i­mate demands to imme­di­ate­ly stop vio­lence and release pris­on­ers as a pre­req­ui­site for a cred­i­ble nation­al dia­logue lead­ing to gen­uine tran­si­tion to democ­ra­cy. The EU empha­sis­es that, if a dia­logue is to be cred­i­ble and gen­uine, it must be tru­ly inclu­sive and con­duct­ed in an envi­ron­ment with­out fear and intim­i­da­tion. For a dia­logue to be inclu­sive and mean­ing­ful, the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the oppo­si­tion with the full free­dom of assem­bly is essential.

6. The EU fur­ther recalls that the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment adopt­ed reforms, notably the lift­ing of the state of emer­gency and guar­an­tee­ing the right to peace­ful protest, which have nev­er been put into prac­tice. The EU reit­er­ates that by choos­ing a path of repres­sion instead of ful­fill­ing its own promis­es on broad reforms, the Syr­i­an regime is call­ing its legit­i­ma­cy into ques­tion. The reforms should be ful­ly imple­ment­ed with­out delay. 

7. The EU strong­ly deplores the fact that despite the amnesties announced by the Pres­i­dent thou­sands are still held in deten­tion. All pris­on­ers of con­science and those arrest­ed in con­nec­tion with peace­ful protests should be released urgent­ly. The EU calls on the Syr­i­an lead­er­ship to halt its far-reach­ing per­se­cu­tion, includ­ing arbi­trary arrests, abuse of detainees in cus­tody and intim­i­da­tions, to respect human rights, allow unhin­dered access by human rights mon­i­tors, and coop­er­ate with the Office of the High Com­mis­sion­er for Human Rights includ­ing by grant­i­ng its mis­sion access to Syria.

8. The EU notes with extreme con­cern the dete­ri­o­rat­ing human­i­tar­i­an sit­u­a­tion of many Syr­i­ans. Thou­sands of peo­ple con­tin­ue to be dis­placed, includ­ing in the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, as a result of the vio­lence. Pro­vi­sion of basic goods and ser­vices has been inter­rupt­ed repeat­ed­ly. The Syr­i­an author­i­ties must ensure that no fur­ther inter­rup­tions occur. The EU stress­es that the Syr­i­an author­i­ties bear respon­si­bil­i­ty for the human­i­tar­i­an sit­u­a­tion of the Syr­i­an peo­ple and strong­ly urges them to allow safe and unhin­dered access by human­i­tar­i­an agen­cies to all affect­ed areas.

9. Not­ing that some lim­it­ed access was giv­en to inter­na­tion­al media, the EU urges the Syr­i­an author­i­ties to allow inde­pen­dent and inter­na­tion­al media to oper­ate in Syr­ia with­out restric­tions. The Syr­i­an peo­ple should not be deprived of access to free media, includ­ing the Internet.

10. The EU strong­ly con­demns the attacks direct­ed against diplo­mat­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tions, includ­ing of one of its Mem­ber States, and the total­ly inad­e­quate response of the Syr­i­an author­i­ties. It fur­ther reminds the author­i­ties of their oblig­a­tion to pro­tect diplo­mat­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tions in Syria.

11. The sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues to affect neigh­bour­ing coun­tries and con­sti­tutes a threat to region­al peace, secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty. There­fore, the EU per­sists in its efforts to ensure that the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil assumes its respon­si­bil­i­ty in this respect, includ­ing by con­demn­ing the ongo­ing vio­lent repres­sion. The EU acknowl­edges the efforts by Turkey and oth­er region­al part­ners on the dif­fer­ent aspects of the cri­sis, in par­tic­u­lar the human­i­tar­i­an aspects, and will work with them to address the sit­u­a­tion in Syr­ia. The EU con­tin­ues to stand ready to assist in address­ing the human­i­tar­i­an impli­ca­tions of the cri­sis in the region.

12. Until the unac­cept­able vio­lence against the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion is halt­ed and deci­sive progress achieved towards ful­fill­ing the legit­i­mate aspi­ra­tions of the Syr­i­an peo­ple for a demo­c­ra­t­ic tran­si­tion, the EU will pur­sue and car­ry for­ward its cur­rent pol­i­cy, includ­ing through sanc­tions tar­get­ed against those respon­si­ble for or asso­ci­at­ed with the vio­lent repression.” 

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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