Friday

23rd Feb 2018

EU ministers set to beef up Syria arms embargo, sanctions

  • A suicide bomber killing Syria's defence minister may be the beginning of the end for the Assad regime (Photo: anjci)

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels Monday (23 July) are expected to extend sanctions on Syria while trying to clamp down on weapons making their way to the Bashar Assad government.

A couple of dozen people and entities are expected to be added to an EU-sanctions list already containing 43 companies and 128 people.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The move is in part to show the EU's determination to press ahead with being tough on Damascus even after China and Russia on Thursday (19 July) refused to endorse global sanctions through a UN resolution.

But EU officials also believe the sanctions are having an effect.

"Our analysis and reporting from sources in Syria suggest that this causes significant anxiety and concern to the Syrian regime. This is not something they are blasé about, they really don't like these measures," said one EU diplomat.

"It can't be categorically proven but it seems to make the functioning of the government more difficult," the diplomat added.

The freezing of assets is also thought to hit the standing of the regime among its supporters used to the government's largesse and unhappy at seeing it dwindling.

EU ministers will also try to strengthen its arms embargo against the war-torn nation. A ban on arms exports has been in place since May 2011 but member states at the time did not agree the tools to enforce it.

They are set to remedy this by agreeing to examine ships and aircraft carrying suspicious-looking cargo to Syria.

"It's important to be clear about what we are aiming to do. We are looking to reduce the ease by which arms can go to Syria" said the EU diplomat.

The porous arms embargo came to attention early in the year when a Russia ship carrying arms docked in Cyprus to refuel. The ship was allowed to leave again after its Russian owners said it would no longer be going to Syria.

But events are moving quickly on the ground, so much may be changed by Monday. The killing of the defence minister in a suicide attack on Wednesday is widely seen as big blow to the regime.

There was extra confusion Friday when Russia appeared to exercise some political pressure. Its ambassador to France told Radio France International that Assad is ready to step down "in a civilized way" - the remarked was later dismissed by both Syria and Russia as out of context and incorrectly interpreted.

Zimbabwe

Ministers are also expected to back a UK-pushed proposal to encourage further reforms in Zimbabwe. They are likely to agree to suspend the current prohibition on aid going directly to the government.

This is hoped to have a strong "signalling effect" as money will not start flowing immediately but only once the EU's new budget framework kicks in from 2014. This can be "rescinded" at any time, said a diplomat.

They are also expected to say that if there is a fair constitutional referendum later this year then there should be a suspension of the asset freeze and travel ban on all but President Robert Mugabe and the core people around him.

Meanwhile ministers may also name the EU special representative on human rights at their Monday meeting. Among the frontrunners for the post are Finland's Astrid Thors, a former MEP and Francois Zimeray, France's ambassador for human rights.

Feature

Back from hell, back from Syria

The West should give the Free Syrian Army food and anti-aircraft defences, one EU parliament official says after visiting the war torn country.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

Opinion

EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy

Not extending the EU fisheries deal with Morocco to fish off the disputed coast of Western Sahara could deprive the Sahrawi people of much-needed income - and throw into question future EU foreign policy in the name of human rights.

EU warns Turkey over 'threat' to Cyprus

The European Commission called on Ankara to refrain from doing "damage to good neighbourly relations", after Turkish vessels stop a rig from reaching a gas drilling zone.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  2. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  3. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  4. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired
  5. Luxembourg and Ireland pay highest minimum wages
  6. Freedom of expression under threat in Spain, warn MEPs
  7. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  8. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  8. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  10. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  11. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  2. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  3. European far-right political party risks collapse
  4. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table
  5. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  6. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  7. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  8. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court