20th Mar 2018

Germany 'ready to talk' on EU arms for Syria

EU countries could soon be competing with Iran and Russia to arm the opposing sides in Syria's civil war.

The prospect arose on Thursday (14 March), when German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle indicated that Berlin would not stand in the way of British and French plans to go ahead.

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.

"If important partners in the European Union now see a different situation, which in their view once again makes a change of the sanction decisions necessary, naturally we are ready to discuss it immediately in the EU," he said in a written statement.

Earlier this week, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius joined the UK in saying France would veto the renewal of EU sanctions on Syria, which include the arms ban, if it does not get leeway to send weapons.

The sanctions package automatically expires on 31 May unless there is a consensus to renew it.

Fabius on Thursday added that he does not want to wait another six weeks before taking action.

"We will ask, with the British, for that meeting [on renewing the arms ban] to be brought forward," he told France Info radio.

An EU diplomat told EUobserver that the embargo could in theory be lifted in a matter of days.

"How fast or slow we go depends entirely on the degree of convergence among member states. If there is unanimity, it can be done very speedily in a few days," the contact said.

Meanwhile, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton told MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday that nobody had mentioned weapons in recent meetings in Brussels.

"On the occasions this year when I have put the arms embargo on the agenda of the foreign affairs council - with all options to be discussed - no member state has proposed that it be lifted to arm the opposition," she noted.

She spoke instead of the need to send in more humanitarian aid.

She also said diplomacy should be given more of a chance.

"As [the UN and Arab League envoy on Syria] Lakhdar Brahimi said to me and our ministers a few days ago at the foreign affairs council, the 'Assad-must-go' slogan is not a substitute for a political process. A process is what is needed to get out of the current impasse," she added, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

For its part, the rebel National Coalition on Thursday welcomed the latest EU developments.

A senior rebel commander, Selim Idriss, said on a visit to the European Parliament last week that the imbalance in arms is the only thing keeping al-Assad in power.

"If we have the weapons we need, I can tell you that the regime will collapse in a month," he said.


Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea

Together with many other partners, including the United States, Canada and Norway, the European Union has implemented a policy of non-recognition and sanctions regimes, targeting people and entities that have promoted Russia's illegal annexation.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders expected to approve Brexit future talks guidelines
  2. Tusk: EU must 'continue to engage' with US on trade
  3. European elections set for 23-26 May 2019
  4. EU tries to find common candidate for top UN food job
  5. Facebook post triggers Norway no-confidence vote
  6. Merkel: 'no reason' to sanction Schroeder for Russia support
  7. MEPs and Council strike deal on posted workers' rights
  8. EU parliament to investigate Facebook data 'breach'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverHiring - Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience - Apply Now!
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?