23rd Oct 2016

EU takes step toward recognition of dissident Syria council

  • Frattini: 'We would very much like to have programmes if possible, roadmaps' (Photo:

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."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity