Saturday

19th Oct 2019

EU takes step toward recognition of dissident Syria council

  • Frattini: 'We would very much like to have programmes if possible, roadmaps' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU countries have lent international credibility to the Syrian National Council (SNC) but stopped short of recognising it as a replacement for the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Foreign ministers in a joint communique in Luxembourg on Monday (10 October) said the bloc "welcomes the efforts of the political opposition to establish a united platform. It calls on the international community also to welcome these efforts. In this regard, the EU notes the creation of the Syrian National Council as a positive step forward."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Italy's Franco Frattini went further, encouraging the group to come out with a plan for what it would do if Assad falls.

"Many, many countries in the world have not yet sufficient knowledge about who [the SNC] are. We would very much like to have programmes if possible, roadmaps. What is very clear is that we cannot any longer accept the Syrian government, which is killing ordinary Syrians. We would very much like to have some alternative proposals, which should be frankly discussed at the level of the international community," he said.

The foreign ministers of France and the UK, which led the Nato cavalry charge into Libya, confirmed they are holding meetings with the council. Sweden's Carl Bildt noted: "We are talking with them, obviously, as well as we are talking to others who have the possibility of influencing events in Syria."

The SNC is an Istanbul-based group of Syrian exiles and expats launched on 2 October. It is currently led by Burhan Ghalioun, a Paris-based academic liked by Western capitals for his secularist and pro-democratic views, but also contains members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a regional Islamist movement. It is putting together a 29-person secretariat and has "co-ordination committees" that organise protests inside the country.

The EU and the US have already said that President Assad has lost legitimacy and should step down, while British and French military analysts say strikes against Syria are technically feasible.

Nato countries have in the past ruled out Libya-type military intervention because they say that there is no UN mandate, however, and because the opposition movement until now had no leadership structures capable of running the country in a post-Assad scenario.

The Assad regime sees the SNC as a threat. "We will adopt strict measures against any country which will recognise the illegitimate council," Syrian foreign minister Walid Moallem told the state news agency, Sana, on the eve of the EU's Luxembourg meeting.

For its part, Russia has for the past three months blocked French and UK-backed draft UN Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian authorities on the grounds that any UN text could be exploited by Nato to launch military strikes.

Russia's Nato ambassador, Dmitry Rogozin, in an interview with Russian daily Izvestia in August said Nato military planning on Syria is already "well underway." He added that a Western campaign to topple Assad is a prelude to regime change in Iran, Syria's neighbour and ally, and the main threat to Israeli military superiority in the region.

"The noose around Iran is tightening," Rogozin said.

France calls Libya victory summit, warns Syria

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called a high-level meeting on Libya's post-Gaddafi future and promised support - but no military action - for opposition forces in Syria.

EU envoy sheds light on weird US diplomacy

Remarks to Congress by the US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, have shed light on the unusual nature of American diplomacy under president Donald Trump.

Macron warned on danger of Balkans veto

France's veto on North Macedonia enlargement will endanger the Serbia-Kosovo peace process, a senior EU official has warned, but diplomats do not expect Macron to change his mind.

News in Brief

  1. Macron: Nato's inability to react to Turkey a 'mistake'
  2. EU: US can expect counter measures after tariff move
  3. Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019
  4. Puigdemont released after responding to arrest warrant
  5. Commission: Facebook's Libra needs international approach
  6. Italian PM: denial of accession talks a 'historic mistake'
  7. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  8. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us