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Syria Mission: Amid War Fears; Tough Struggle On The Diplomatic Front …

  • July 22nd, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

syria-fighting-3.jpgThe European Commission this week indicated further tightening of its stance on Syria, with 20 to 30 more names of government officials to go onto its blacklist on European travel.

That sanctions regimen has been set up to pressure the government of President Bashar al-Assad to give up violent repression of his opponents, in revolt over the last year and a half, and concede to free elections.

As Laura Ludwig reports, there are grave fears that the violence in Syria, affecting thousands of innocents, will soon get worse, despite concerted international efforts to broker a peace.


syria-fighting-2.jpgThe heavyweights of the international community persist with their discussions over the best way to proceed with the Syrian conflict.

Most of the European Member states are involved; France and Germany in particular taking a leading role.

syria-fighting.jpgThe “Friends of Syria” group of countries met once more in Paris at the beginning of this month; one week before that it was a summit organised by the United Nations – both probing for a consensus on the conflict.

Similar gatherings took place in Tunis in February, at Istanbul in April; both called, in vain, for tougher, broad, concerted international action against the Assad government; to try to get it to change.

One prime aim of this diplomacy has been to coordinate the efforts of Western and Arab states to stop the violence in the country.

Fully achieved, that might counter the resistance of government leader in China and Russia to countenance a change involving the possible overthrow of a despotic leader through outside pressure.

Such concerns have put limits on agreements made at the United Nations Security Council, on the extent of actions that should be taken against the regime in Damascus.


Pushing hard for regime change would also affect sales of armaments and business relations in that trade.

Fears exist that the fighting in Syria actually will intensify in the coming weeks as government and opposition forces have received more weapons from foreign backers.

The conflict is reported to have killed more than 16,500 people since March last year.


For the European Union, conflict in Syria is just one important portfolio in a catalogue of external operations, ranging though its participation as a bloc or single entity in global negotiations on several topics, e.g. Climate Change or G20; and also its missions in  support of development cooperation or humanitarian work.

“We have a toolbox of development assistance, humanitarian aid and crisis management.

“We are the biggest donor and we have to let this toolbox be used by being generous,” said one EU official at Brussels last week.

The toolbox is unlocked when all 27 member states agree to the details of the proposed actions; something of a tall order, but one that is being achieved very often.

Libya is an example; a country that invited the EU in to help.

Its operation there went on for six months, from the participation of certain  member states in the military intervention last year, through to its sending EU representatives in the capacity of elections commissioners.


On an invitation basis the EU is also involved in dialogue with both Egypt and Palestine, acting as a “ third eye to be respected by both sides”; as the process is described by officials.

It also assists with efforts to suppress the traffic of drugs, and human beings in Moldova and Ukraine – showing the scope of activity on different levels.

“We will assist on a primarily financial level as well expertise provision;  we look at what the EU can offer that other countries cannot”; and all missions coordinated by the EU must fall within the scope of the “three most valuable policies”: democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

It is also seen to be in the best interest of the EU for these countries to be in a stable condition.

“It is in the interest of the EU to have a strong Libya”, said an official working in the development assistance field; the EU describing a stable country as “one with a stable market, that has no conflict and can protect its borders”.

Such stability is seen as producing strategic gains, such as the reduction of pressure for illegal emigration to the EU from unstable places, and reducing risks for many parties in that field.

The Paris conference on Syria wrapped up with a six-point resolution, reiterating earlier statements that more definite Security Council action was required to resolve the 16-month conflict.


See also, EUAustralia Online: “Torrid Times …”, 28.5.12; “Syria: EU moves reflect disgust …”, 28.2.12; “Marie Colvin’s death …”, 23.2.12; “EU focus on violence in Syria”, 29.4.12; “Syria: calls for peace terms”, 31.3.11.


Andrew Gardner, European Voice, Brussels, “EU to tighten Syria sanctions”, 19.7.12.


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