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Ashton at EP: Syrian people want freedom and peace and we must do everything possible to realise this goal

 

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton has once again urged that the violence stops in Syria and that Kofi Annan's plan is implemented immediately and in its entirety, in a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
 
“This is not a matter of choice. The 6 point plan is not optional. The government has to implement it fully: troops and heavy weapons must be withdrawn from population centres, peaceful demonstrations and freedom of association must be respected, provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting must be ensured”, stressed Ashton.
 
Talking about the EU’s efforts to support the Syrian people, the EU High Representative said: “We are putting all our instruments together, coordinating closely with Kristalina Georgieva and reaching out to all the neighbouring countries of Syria (both Ambassadors in Brussels and the authorities on the ground). We are also working closely with Member States, ensuring an effective and coordinated EU response… Together with Member States, the EU has put together a contribution of 29 Million EU R in humanitarian aid to Syria and affected neighbouring countries.”
 
With regards to cooperation, the EU foreign policy chief confirmed that the EU suspended all types of cooperation: bilateral cooperation, Syria’s participation in regional programmes, and that the European Investment Bank (EIB) has also suspended all its loan operations and technical assistance to Syria. “We have nevertheless maintained aid that benefits the Syrian population, students, human rights defenders and the opposition.  Those programmes with Syrian students and universities are also continuing”, said Ashton, adding “I have proposed as a matter of urgency a Commission Special Measure to reserve 23 Million EUR for funds to support Syrian Civil Society and Refugees and populations in neighbour countries.”
 
On the EU engagement with the Syrian opposition groups, Ashton reaffirmed that the EU encourages all opposition groups to put aside their differences and work jointly towards a stronger coordination and agree on the way forward for an orderly transition that is inclusive and democratic. “I have instructed the EEAS to continue its meetings with opposition groups at levels – and to reach out to minority groups - to encourage them in this approach.” (ENPI Info Centre)
 
Read more
 
Ashton’s speech
 
Factsheet - The European Union and Syria (01-03-12)
 
European External Action Service – Frequently Asked Questions on EU restrictive measures against the Syrian regime
 
ENPI Info Centre webpage – Syria
 
 

 


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