Thursday

20th Feb 2020

EU pushes Arab plan for regime change in Syria

  • Assad billboard: Van Rompuy's statement comes amid reports of 58 more dead in Syria on Monday (Photo: oliverlaumann)

EU leaders have urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to adopt an Arab League plan for getting rid of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

Speaking on behalf of the bloc at a summit in Brussels on Monday (30 January), EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy voiced "outrage" at "the atrocities and repression committed by the Syrian regime."

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He said "the EU continues to support the efforts of the League of Arab States aimed at ending the violence in Syria" and that the UNSC should "urgently" take action.

British Prime Minister David Cameron in a separate press briefing said: "On Syria - it is an appalling situation - 5,000 killed, 400 children murdered."

He added: "It is time for all the members of the UN Security Council to live up to their responsibilities instead of shielding those who have blood on their hands."

The statements - tacked onto an event devoted to the euro crisis - come on the eve of a UNSC debate in New York on an EU-and-Arab-League-backed resolution.

The draft text says Assad should hand over power to a unity government in two months' time and hold democratic elections in a process overseen by the league, a 22-member regional body based in Cairo. It adds that he should be "held accountable" under international law and that Russia should stop selling him weapons.

It makes no reference to a clause from a previous Russian draft resolution "ruling out any military intervention from the outside."

Russia has repeatedly warned that it will veto the new resolution if it goes to a vote.

Its deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov on Monday told the Interfax news agency it "cannot be supported by us" and "leaves open the possibility of intervention in Syrian affairs."

Ten out of the 15 UNSC members - including France, Germany, Portugal, the UK and US - do support the document, according to France.

The text needs nine positive votes and no vetoes to get through.

For her part, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton said in a communique that: "The longer the Assad regime continues its attacks on the Syrian people and stands in the way of a peaceful transition, the greater the concern that instability will escalate."

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice tweeted: "Violence over the weekend in Syria reaffirms the importance of tomorrow's UNSC meeting."

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