7th May 2021

EU tells UN that political solution on Syria is within reach

  • Van Rompuy at the UN: the EU won new powers at the world body in 2011 (Photo:

EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy has told the UN that the recent deal on Syria's chemical weapons could help end the civil war.

Van Rompuy put the Syria conflict, which he described as a "black wall of doom," at the centre of his UN address.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He noted that the Russia-US agreement for international monitors to destroy Syria's chemical arsenal is a "political opening [which] matters deeply."

"If commitments can be upheld and promises kept on chemical weapons, if lines of communication can reopen, if we can find an agreement within the international community and at the [UN] Security Council... if we can do all this on chemical weapons, then chances are we can do it elsewhere," he said.

He predicted that if the conflict goes on, "there may be three and a half million refugees before the year is over."

Van Rompuy spoke the same day as foreign ministers from the five UN Security Council [UNSC] veto powers - China, France, Russia, the UK and the US - met in New York to discuss a draft UNSC resolution on the chemical weapons agreement.

The US wants the text to invoke chapter VII of the UN charter, or, in other words, to threaten use of force if Syria does not comply. But Russia wants a softer text.

A Western diplomat told Reuters the latest draft threatens to "impose measures" under chapter VII, but stipulates that another resolution, also subject to a Russian veto, would be needed to take military action.

"We have a few details to solve. But I think we shall reach a common resolution maybe today or tomorrow," French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told press.

Meanwhile, Van Rompuy noted that the EU is a major world player despite its economic crisis.

His speech marks just the third time in UN history that the EU's top official addresses the UN General Assembly after the EU won new UN powers in 2011.

Van Rompuy noted that "Europe is not disengaging [from world affairs], even despite the economic difficulties that the past years have brought."

He said: "Today, the eurozone is financially in better shape than 12 months ago. The existential threat to the euro area is over and we are now fully focusing on improving prospects for employment and growth."

He added that the crisis has brought the EU closer together as a "political project."

"Our political will to preserve Europe's unity cannot be underestimated. We have shown it these past five years," he said.

EU-Syria diplomacy in limbo

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

News in Brief

  1. Israel study: Two Pfizer doses give over 95% protection
  2. Barnier calls Johnson a 'bulldozer' in Brexit memoirs
  3. Hungary and Poland prevent 'gender' in summit declaration
  4. Draghi: Italy to welcome foreign tourists from mid-May
  5. Germany announces new, stricter, emission cuts
  6. Channel Islands 'blockade' threat in UK and France row
  7. French reporter kidnapped by rebels in Mali
  8. Trump's Facebook ban upheld but with caveats


Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.


Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Greek prisons accused of abusing detainees
  2. EU and US join up against China on Taiwan
  3. Conservatives' Covid-strategy wins in lockdown-fatigue Madrid
  4. Commission drafts new rules targeting foreign state aid
  5. Why Europe should stop worrying about 'sportswashing'
  6. Conference on Future of Europe must listen to local voices
  7. What happens now to the EU's post-Covid recovery fund?
  8. EU turns from China to India on free trade

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us