Monday

26th Jun 2017

Aleppo envoy left gloomy by EU summit

  • Brita Haj Hassan in the EU leaders meeting room prior to briefing them about the crisis in Aleppo

A dejected senior city official from Aleppo smoked on a cigarette and briefly glanced towards the EU summit building in Brussels where EU leaders have gathered.

Thousands of kilometres away from his home city, besieged by the Syrian regime with Russian support, Brita Haj Hassan, who is president of eastern Aleppo’s city council, did not find the help he expected.

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.

"The war crimes that have been committed, the crimes against humanity, are also in truth crimes that have killed what we call the international role," he told reporters on Thursday (15 December).

Hassan spoke on a sidewalk nearby the EU summit building.

He had earlier met with EU council chief Donald Tusk and had been invited by French president Francois Hollande to address the 28 EU leaders at the start of their meeting.

Tusk had told Hassan and press that the EU offered its support, but that it was confronted with "global limitations and problems". Tusk did not go into detail.

"Our main goal today is to protect, as effectively as possible, your civilians in Aleppo. Please believe me, no one is indifferent in the EU," Tusk said.

Other priorities

Declarations aside, the EU and member states, in truth, appear to have other priorities.

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel made no mention of Syria when queried about the day's top discussion points.

Syria is listed as the final point in a nine-page draft summit communique, which outlines the joint position of all EU states. "The EU is considering all available options," notes the paper.

Hollande pushed the Germans into also issuing a separate declaration after meeting Merkel in Berlin on Monday.

The declaration, according to one EU diplomat, will demand a total ceasefire in Aleppo and protection of the city's besieged hospitals. Access to humanitarian relief and medical supplies will also be demanded.

"In the hours ahead, if these efforts are not made, I'm telling you, the regimes that back [Syrian leader] Bashar al-Assad will be responsible for the extremely awful situation of the population," said Hollande before the meeting.

War crimes

Hassan had come to Brussels to pressure EU leaders into discussing Syria, to get people to monitor the evacuation on the ground, and to hold the regime accountable for war crimes.

"The most important demand nowadays is to rescue and save the lives of these 50,000 people in eastern Aleppo, and after this to put an end to the war crimes committed by the regime," he said.

Government forces loyal to Assad earlier in the week cleared the rebel stronghold in the city. The UN has since reported summary executions of civilians in the former enclave in the lead up to an evacuation now taking place.

Hassan said four people had been shot and wounded by snipers during the evacuation, however, including two volunteers from the White Helmets civil defence group.

"The first convoy had been stopped and had to return to eastern Aleppo because it was subject to fire," he said.

"The truth is that the ceasefire is not really in place on the ground."

Aleppo's fate overshadows EU summit

EU leaders called for evacuations and aid, but admitted "we have to stand there watching", as Syrian regime, Russia, and Iran committed what some called "war crimes".

Opinion

Let refugees help the EU

To solve the Syrian refugee crisis the EU will have to take a leadership role and work effectively with refugee and diaspora communities who can serve as agents of change.

EU extends sanctions on Russia

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia hadn't done enough to implement the so-called Minsk peace process, a condition for lifting the sanctions.

EU extends sanctions on Russia

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia hadn't done enough to implement the so-called Minsk peace process, a condition for lifting the sanctions.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

News in Brief

  1. Seasoned finance minister takes over Dutch coalition talks
  2. British PM closes government deal with Northern Irish party
  3. Merkel on collision course with US at G20 summit
  4. Schulz outlines German election strategy, hits out at Merkel
  5. Berlusconi's party sees comeback in Italian local votes
  6. Low turnout in Albanian election set to mandate EU future
  7. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  8. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  3. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  4. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  5. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  6. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  7. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  8. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  9. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  10. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  11. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?