Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

Syria attack 'maybe' timed against EU conference

  • Mogherini: 'Maybe it is not a chance that it is right in a moment like this that such attacks come' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The EU has said a chemical attack in Syria could have been timed to undermine its international meeting on post-war reconstruction.

Reacting to reports that at least 60 people were killed by toxic gas in Syria on Tuesday (4 April), Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said the “terrible scenes” might have been meant to destabilise the EU initiative.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“Maybe it is not by chance that it is exactly when the international community, 70 different countries and organisations come together to try and build peace … Maybe it is not a chance that it is right in a moment like this that such attacks come,” she said.

The EU-sponsored conference, which takes place in Brussels on Wednesday, is designed to prepare for post-war state building in Syria.

Russia, which is fighting in Syria on behalf of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, is in charge of separate talks on brokering a ceasefire.

It has said its ally should stay in power as part of Russia’s broader strategy to increase its influence in the Mediterranean, but the EU says Assad must go.

The Syrian regime and Russia denied firing the gas on Tuesday.

Mogherini also said she had no evidence of whose warplanes were involved. “As we gather here in these days on Syria, we share whatever we can share in terms of information,” she said.

British prime minister Theresa May called for an international investigation, but hinted that Assad was responsible.

“There can be no future for Assad in a stable Syria which is representative of all the Syrian people … We cannot allow this suffering to continue”, she said.

The attack took place in the town of Khan Sheikhun in north-east Syria, targeting refugees, including children, and medical staff, in an area controlled by pro-Western rebels.

It came after Syrian and Russian warplanes bombed civilians in rebel-held parts of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Several EU states, including France, Germany, and the UK, have trained and equipped the rebels and launched their own air strikes in Syria in order to fight the jihadist group, ISIS.

Iran, Gulf Arab states, and Turkey are also fighting in Syria on different sides in a conflict that, Mogherini said, was unlikely to end soon.

“After seven years of war, you cannot expect one round of talks or two rounds of talks to bring the solution to everything … even such an important conference as the one we are having”, she said on Tuesday.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has called on Western states to pay for Syria’s post-war reconstruction.

Mogherini said the EU would contribute because the amount of money needed would be more than Russia and the Syrian regime's other ally, Iran, could afford.

She indicated that the EU would not pay to rebuild Syria just for it to be ruled by Assad and Putin, however.

“We do not imagine in any possible way that there can be a situation where the European Union takes the bill regardless of any kind of political dynamic,” she said.

Interview

Russia building 'arc of iron' around Europe

Russia’s intervention in Libya is designed to surround Europe in a “great game” of geostrategy, Italy’s former military chief has said.

Interview

Refusing refugees should cost EU funds, MEP says

Swedish liberal MEP Cecilia Wikstroem, the European Parliament's negotiator on asylum reform, says it is too complicated to fine member states for not taking refugees and will instead look for ways to withhold their EU funds instead.

Donors pledge billions for Syria amid European shame

Donors pledged €5.5 billion in aid for Syria for 2017 and another €3.47 billion up until 2020. The figures contrast the number of refugees hosted by Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey when compared to Europe.

News in Brief

  1. British PM to batter against EU wall on Brexit
  2. Hungary and Slovakia break EU line on Jerusalem
  3. Germany and France to overhaul EU competition law
  4. Estonia kicks out Danske Bank over money laundering scandal
  5. May and Juncker meet over Brexit on Wednesday
  6. EU promises to open up advisory groups
  7. EU agrees to limit CO2 emissions by trucks
  8. Juncker under attack in Hungary government ad

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  2. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  3. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  4. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  5. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  6. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat
  7. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  8. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us