Tuesday

11th May 2021

Exclusive

Chemical-weapons vote reveals 'friends of Syria' axis

  • OPCW: Iran and Russia's Cold-War style bloc leapt to Syria's defence - while the Vatican abstained (Photo: opcw.org)

Voting on Syria at the world's chemical-weapons watchdog has shed light on its friends and the geopolitics of its 10-year old conflict.

Iran was the first to vote 'no' to sanctions on Syria at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague on Wednesday (20 April).

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

Russia, which is fighting on the Syrian regime's side in its civil war, also led a Cold-War type bloc of no-voters, which included Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, diplomatic sources told EUobserver.

China lent its weight to the no-side, in the name of non-intervention in other states' affairs.

Palestine and Pakistan also joined the 'no' camp.

Nicaragua, Bolivia, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe also said Syria should keep its full voting rights at the OPCW, despite massacring its own people with chemical weapons for years.

But all the EU countries represented in Wednesday's meeting voted in concord and the motion - to strip Syria of those rights - sailed through by 87 against 15, with 34 abstentions.

It was the first move of its type in the OPCW's 24-year history.

France, the former colonial power in Syria, had spearheaded the initiative, and called the OPCW sanctions "a good day for multilateralism".

The UK called it "vital" for the OPCW's "credibility'.

The Holy See was the only European country which attended the meeting, but declared abstention, in line with its tradition of not taking sides.

Syria used chlorine gas against civilians in 2018 and chlorine and sarin gas in 2017, the OPCW has previously found.

The Syrian regime also massacred several hundred civilians using sarin gas in Ghouta, in the suburbs of Damascus, in 2013, before the OPCW began to investigate its crimes.

Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns

Denmark is stripping Syrians of residency rights - the first country in the EU to do so - amid threats to deport them back home. The EU did not comment directly, but warned that Syria is not safe.

News in Brief

  1. Lukashenko amends emergency transfer of power
  2. German centre-left picks Scholz as would-be chancellor
  3. EU has not ordered AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June
  4. Macron: Pandemic showed need for more EU integration
  5. Election win fuels Scottish nationalists' referendum plan
  6. Surge in migrant arrivals to Italian island
  7. EU embassy pays bail for Georgia opposition leader
  8. British aristocrats caught peddling Kremlin ties

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. EU and US urge Israel to defuse Jerusalem violence
  2. Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands
  3. Has Albania really met the 15 tests to join the EU? No
  4. Vaccine fairness plus Russia on table This WEEK
  5. EU ambassadors flock to Red Square for Putin's parade
  6. MEPs win battle for bigger citizens' voice at Conference
  7. Hungary gags EU ministers on China
  8. Poland and Hungary push back on 'gender equality' pre-summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us