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Doubts emerge on Belgium’s counter-terror group

10.07.14 @ 09:28

Sweden has opted out of Belgium’s new counter-terrorism scheme amid internal debate on the merits of the plan. The Belgian interior ministry earlier this week said Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, The ...

FeatureZaatari: Birth of a new city in EU neighbourhood

03.05.14 @ 11:06

“Welcome to my neighbourhood: District 5, Street 18,” says Nour, a Syrian school teacher, as she leads EUobserver to her home: a metal container and a tent in the Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian desert. She is ...

Syrians and Russians top asylum demands to EU

25.03.14 @ 09:29

Syrians fleeing war and Russians topped the list of those asking for asylum in the EU last year. Figures released on Monday (24 March) from the EU statistical office, Eurostat, reveal Syrians top the list of asylum ...

OpinionEurope’s race to the bottom on protecting refugees from Syria

19.12.13 @ 09:26

In much of Europe, ‘asylum-seeker’ and ‘refugee’ have become dirty words. It is rare to find a politician who will express genuine concern for refugees in public; when it does happen, it’s usually on a visit to a ...

Greek special forces push back Syrian refugees, NGO says

07.11.13 @ 16:56

Armed special-op units in Greece are reportedly repelling asylum seekers and refugees in commando-like operations on its Turkish land border and out at sea. The allegations, gathered in around 90 anonymous testimonies ...

Migrant deaths prompt calls for greater EU-wide response

14.10.13 @ 09:28

The migrant and refugee boat tragedies off Europe’s Mediterranean coast have prompted Italy to step up border patrols and for Malta to ask for more assistance from member states and the EU. Enrico Letta, Italy’s prime ...

EU-Syria diplomacy in limbo

25.09.13 @ 17:27

The EU foreign service has had no contact with the Syrian regime for almost a year, despite its effort to play a role in international diplomacy on the civil war. Under EU sanctions law, the head of the European ...

EU offers to help destroy Syria weapons

15.09.13 @ 19:35

EU countries have offered to help destroy Syria's chemical weapons as part of a Russia-US deal. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US secretary of state John Kerry agreed the plan on Saturday (14 September) in ...

Russia rejects French UN draft on Syria

11.09.13 @ 09:56

Russia has told France it cannot back a draft UN resolution authorising the use of force if Syria does not give up chemical weapons. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius delivered the news after speaking with his ...

US remark prompts potential U-turn on Syria

10.09.13 @ 09:29

France, the UK and the US are studying a Russian-Syrian proposal for Syria to give up its chemical arsenal. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov made the offer in Moscow on Monday (9 September), saying: "If the ...

France and US say Syria is not like Iraq war

09.09.13 @ 09:29

US secretary of state John Kerry and French foreign minister Laurent Fabius have rejected comparisons between Syria and Iraq in a bid to win public support for military strikes on Syria. Speaking at a joint press ...

EU blames Syria for gas attack, urges UN action

07.09.13 @ 18:11

EU countries have said Syria used chemical weapons against its own people, but want the US and France to give the UN more time. The bloc's foreign ministers noted in a statement on Saturday (7 September) that: " ...

US and France keen to mute EU critics on Syria

06.09.13 @ 09:23

The US, France, Germany and the UK will try to quiet down EU critics of Syria intervention at a foreign ministers' meeting in Vilnius on Friday (6 September) and Saturday. The EU event comes after pro-intervention ...

Top EU official urges respect for 'UN process' on Syria

05.09.13 @ 16:12

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy has urged the US and France to respect the role of the UN on possible military intervention in Syria. "While respecting the recent calls for action, we underscore the need to move ...

France on Syria: We are not being led by US

05.09.13 @ 09:27

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has denied that France is being led by the US on military action in Syria. Speaking at a debate in the French parliament on Wednesday (4 September), the centre-left PM said the ...

Putin warns US, France against Syria action

04.09.13 @ 09:13

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has warned against Western strikes on Syria on the eve of the G20 summit in St Petersburg on Thursday (5 September). Speaking in an interview with the Associated Press and the Channel 1 ...

Syrian refugees reach 2 million mark

03.09.13 @ 09:27

The number of Syrian refugees has surpassed 2 million, half of whom are children, the UN refugee agency has said. "Today, the number of Syrian refugees passed the threshold of two million, and with no sign of this ...

OpinionKosovo symbol dispute shows limit of EU deal

02.09.13 @ 13:34

The inconvenient truth that the EU-mediated negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia will not lead to genuine reconciliation is coming to light. The deal, as stated in its title, aims at "normalisation of relations" ...

AgendaG20 and Syria top the bill THIS WEEK

31.08.13 @ 12:52

EU politicians will return from summer holidays to a week dominated by the G20 summit in St Petersburg, where European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European head Herman van Rompuy will represent the EU ...

France 'ready' to strike Syria despite British No vote

30.08.13 @ 14:47

French President Francois Hollande has said he is ready to join the US in strikes on Syria after British MPs voted No. Asked in an interview in the French daily Le Monde on Friday (30 August), the day after the UK ...

British MPs halt prospect of joint US strike on Syria

30.08.13 @ 09:26

The British parliament has blocked UK military action against Syria, leaving the US to seek other allies for its intervention. A government motion authorising the use of force in reaction to an alleged chemical weapons ...

UK and US ready to strike Syria without UN say-so

29.08.13 @ 09:29

Russia and China on Wednesday (28 August) in New York said No to a military strike on Syria, but the US and the UK are saying they do not need UN permission. The meeting of the five veto powers of the UN Security ...

Reported Saudi-Russia deal could impact EU gas price

28.08.13 @ 09:29

Saudi Arabia, with US backing, offered Russia better oil and gas prices in Europe in return for the fall of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, a leaked report claims. The revelation originally came in the Arabic language ...

Germany not keen to join France and UK on Syria strike

27.08.13 @ 10:02

Germany has indicated it will not take part in any military strike on Syria, as France and the UK signal readiness to join a US-led intervention. Philipp Missfelder, the foreign affairs spokesman for German Chancellor ...

UN ignores EU calls for Syria inspections

22.08.13 @ 09:29

A late night meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday (21 August) failed to say weapons inspectors should get access to investigate claims of a mass-scale chemical attack in Syria. The council's statement, read ...

EU stops some arms sales to Egypt

21.08.13 @ 19:21

EU countries have punished the Egyptian army for massacring Muslim Brotherhood protesters by stopping sales of items "which might be used for internal repression." They said other arms exports, and joint security ...

OpinionLessons EU needs to learn from the Syrian tragedy

14.08.13 @ 09:19

As the argument rages over whether to provide arms to rebels in Syria, we observe once more that initially-reluctant Western governments are pushed to act just when the available options are limited and generally ...

Russians top EU asylum seekers

08.08.13 @ 16:21

The EU saw the highest number of asylum seekers come from Russia at the beginning of this year, with Syrians following closely behind. Recently-released Eurostat figures for the first three months of 2013 saw 8,435 ...

Growing racism spurs rise in extremist parties, commission says

18.07.13 @ 16:21

Creeping racism and xenophobia in Europe may contribute to an upsurge of far-right MEPs following European Parliament elections next May. Speaking to reporters in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, EU home affairs ...

AgendaYouth unemployment tops EU agenda this WEEK

21.06.13 @ 18:15

EU leaders will gather in Brussels at the end of the week to discuss both youth employment as well as further steps towards banking union. With 26 million people without a job in the EU, and unemployment among young ...

Russia and UK collide on Syria ahead of G8

17.06.13 @ 09:28

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has rebuked EU countries over plans to give weapons to human-heart-eating radicals in Syria. Speaking at a press event in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday (16 June ...

France and US shun Iran on Syria peace talks

14.06.13 @ 18:32

It is unclear when or where they will happen, but one thing is sure - neither France nor the US want Iran at the next Syria peace talks. Diplomats expect a bit more clarity after a preparatory meeting by Russian and US ...

EU pledges to support Syria peace talks despite arms threat

04.06.13 @ 16:39

The EU on Tuesday (4 June) sought to strike a conciliatory note with Russia on how to deal with war-torn Syria, following a bilateral summit where little of substance was agreed. EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy ...

US backs EU arms shipments to Syria rebels

25.05.13 @ 19:02

The US has endorsed an Anglo-French proposal to let EU countries arm Syrian rebels, but Israel is against the move. A US state department official told EUobserver in a written note on Friday (24 May) that: "Amending the ...

EU admits oil aid to Syria rebels will do little to help

23.04.13 @ 09:23

EU countries have agreed to start buying oil from Syrian rebels in a largely symbolic move designed to give moral support. The decision, which entered into force on Tuesday (23 April), allows EU governments to buy crude ...

OpinionWhat is the Free Syrian Army? An inside look

22.03.13 @ 10:05

Last month, I visited northern Syria three times with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). I spoke to many defected generals, commanders on the ground, people in the FSA headquarters and military-civilian organisers of ...

AgendaEU looks to arming Syria rebels, wooing Russia this WEEK

15.03.13 @ 18:35

EU foreign ministers meeting on Friday and Saturday (22-23 March) in Dublin will seek to overcome disagreements over how to deal with a Syrian arms embargo. Britain and France want to change it so weapons can be ...

Benelux countries urge EU unity on Syria

15.03.13 @ 15:29

Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have issued a plea for the EU to stop infighting on Syria. The Benelux countries in a joint statement on Friday (15 March) said: "We must stay united if we want to convince Russia ...

Family of Syria Internet guru appeals for EU help

15.03.13 @ 07:35

The family of one extraordinary Syrian man facing life in prison has appealed to the EU for diplomatic assistance. "We need the urgent support of the European Union. This is our call to the European External Action ...

Germany 'ready to talk' on EU arms for Syria

14.03.13 @ 17:47

EU countries could soon be competing with Iran and Russia to arm the opposing sides in Syria's civil war. The prospect arose on Thursday (14 March), when German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle indicated that Berlin ...

UK asserts right to 'independent foreign policy'

13.03.13 @ 09:25

British leader David Cameron has said he might send arms to rebels in Syria whether fellow EU countries like it or not. Speaking to the House of Commons liaison committee on Tuesday (12 March), he said: "I would like to ...

France and Germany disagree on arming Syria rebels

12.03.13 @ 09:19

France has said the EU should reconsider its ban on giving arms to Syrian rebels, despite German opposition to the move. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told press after meeting his colleagues in Brussels on ...

Weapons needed to oust regime, says top Syria rebel general

07.03.13 @ 09:00

Bashar al-Assad’s 40-year old regime would topple within a month if the West were to lift the arms embargo and supply the rebels with weapons, Syria’s rebel top commander Brigadier General Selim Idriss has said. Idriss, ...

EU offers Syria rebels 'non-lethal' equipment

01.03.13 @ 09:27

The European Union on Thursday (28 February) agreed to supply Syria’s opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, with "non-lethal military equipment." The amended arms embargo will allow for “the provision of non-lethal ...

VideoMEP witnesses 'life or death' plight of Syria refugees

22.02.13 @ 09:26

Spanish MEP Juan Lopez Aguilar just returned from a visit to Zaatari, a refugee camp in Jordan, about 12 kilometres from the Syrian border, hosting almost 100,000 Syrian refugees. "It is about the end of the regime, in ...

FeatureBack from hell, back from Syria

14.02.13 @ 09:18

From 18 to 23 January I travelled to the Hatay region in Turkey and the Aleppo region in northern Syria. I was there with Rami Jarah and Deiaa Dughmoch (two Syrian activists who had in the past visited the Liberal group ...

InterviewRasmussen: 'Nato cannot act as the world's policeman'

11.02.13 @ 09:29

Nato head Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that the alliance would only take action against Syria if Turkey is attacked. Speaking to EUobserver in his office in Brussels last week, the secretary general of what calls ...

AgendaJustice priorities to be discussed this WEEK

11.01.13 @ 19:25

Justice ministers from around Europe are gathering in Dublin near the end of the week as euro-deputies convene a plenary in Strasbourg. EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding and EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia ...

OpinionLiving up to the Nobel: EU must act on Syria

10.12.12 @ 09:06

Catherine Ashton's mandate is to provide leadership on foreign policy and human rights. She has failed, however, to ensure a collective EU voice for bringing the crimes in Syria before the International Criminal Court ( ...

Lack of funding may force Syrian refugees into Europe

31.07.12 @ 18:05

Neighbouring countries surrounding war-ravaged Syria may seal off their borders if they can no longer absorb the increasing number of refugees, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) representative to Jordan, Andrew Harper, told ...

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