Syria: EU agrees moves to step up arms embargo
The EU today agreed measures to strengthen the enforcement of its arms embargo against Syria. EU countries will be obliged to inspect vessels and aircraft heading to Syria if they suspect the cargo contains arms or equipment for internal repression.
Announcing the measures agreed by the Council of the European Union, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton said: "I am deeply concerned at the escalating violence and its tragic consequences for the Syrian population. The EU has warned against a further militarisation of the conflict. Today we are taking practical steps towards limiting the supplies that fuel the fighting."
The obligation to inspect cargoes applies in member states' ports and airports as well as in their territorial waters, in accordance with international law. Items that may not be exported to Syria under EU law must be seized. In addition, aircraft and vessels heading to Syria will have to provide additional pre-arrival and pre-departure information on their cargo.
The EU embargo on exporting arms and equipment for internal repression to Syria has been in force since May 2011. It is also prohibited to provide grants, loans, export credit insurance, technical assistance, insurance and reinsurance for exports of arms and of equipment for internal repression to Syria.
The decision came as EU foreign ministers meeting Brussels expressed the EU's concern at the influx of weapons into Syria and called “on all states to refrain from delivering arms to the country”, adding: “The EU is seriously concerned about the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
Conclusions agreed at the Foreign Affairs Council described the killings in the village of Tremseh in Syria on 12 July as “horrific” and called for “an immediate international independent investigation”. “The EU urges the Syrian regime to end immediately the killing of civilians, withdraw the Syrian army from besieged towns and cities and to allow for a peaceful transition for the sake of the country,” they said.
“The EU remains deeply concerned about the spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis in neighbouring countries in terms of security and stability. It calls on the Syrian regime to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of neighbouring countries,” the Conclusions say.
Ministers added that the EU “welcomes the outcome of the Action Group meeting in Geneva on 30 June 2012 and in particular the call for the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers made up of opposition and government representatives and formed by mutual consent.”
“The EU underlines that those whose presence would undermine the transition should be excluded and that President Assad, in this regard, has no place in the future of Syria.”
EU foreign ministers expressed the EU’s deep concern about the human rights situation and breaches of international humanitarian law in Syria. “The EU recalls that all those responsible for widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations must be held accountable.”
Noting the start of the implementation of the humanitarian response plan in Syria, ministers said that the EU “stands ready to offer additional support, including financial, to help neighbouring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan, to host the increasing number of Syrian refugees fleeing violence in Syria. The EU will increase its humanitarian assistance to the Syrians, including internally displaced persons and refugees, and calls upon all countries to do likewise”.
(EU Neighbourhood Info
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre webpage – Syria