Saturday

29th Apr 2017

EU justifies keeping Syrian ambassador in good books

  • Barroso (l) receives diplomatic credentials from Soussan back in November 2007 (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Extra details have emerged on the three Syrian diplomats dubbed personae non gratae in the EU capital.

The men are: Mohammed Ayman Soussan (Syria's ambassador to Belgium and to the EU); Wael Saker (an attache in the Syrian embassy to Belgium, who is also accredited to the EU); and Safwan Bahloul (a third secretary in the Syrian embassy to Belgium).

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.

Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said on Tuesday (29 May) he did it because of the "extreme horror ... of the massacre committed in Houla [in western Syria]."

Only Bahloul actually has to leave Belgium, however. The other two can stay because the EU institutions have not blackballed them.

The EU could do it if all 27 member states and the European Commission agree. But nobody proposed the move when they met in Brussels on Tuesday in the Political and Security Committee to discuss Syria.

An EU contact said this is because of "reciprocity."

In diplomatic practice, if one side throws out an ambassador, the other side reciprocates. But the European External Action Service (EEAS) is keen to keep its ambassador in Syria to gather information. Four EU countries who earlier closed their missions in Syria are also operating out of the EEAS office in Damascus.

One EU diplomat who knows Soussan said he is a "career diplomat" and "not part of the security apparatus."

EUobserver interviewed Soussan in February 2011 shortly before the troubles began in Syria. He said people want stability more than reform because of the bad example of Iraq.

Saker is a different kettle of fish.

The Belgian state security service is looking into allegations that he is an officer in the secret police who has threatened to harm relatives in Syria of Belgium-based Syrian opposition supporters.

He is also accused of driving a black Mercedes with CD plates at high speed at protesters outside the Syrian embassy in Brussels in February, hitting one man in the leg.

The Syrian embassy denies it.

Reynders' decision leaves just three people in the Syrian embassy with diplomatic accreditation for Belgium: first secretary Khaldoun Zaffaranji; third secretary Yamen Yassouf; and Rima al-Hakim, a young woman who is Soussan's personal assistant.

EU-Syria diplomacy in limbo

The EU is upholding diplomatic privileges for Syrian officials despite the fact there is no EU-Syria diplomacy.

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party