Sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad
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The Foreign Affairs Council on 23 May added Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and nine other senior members of the government to the list of individuals already banned from travelling to the EU and subject to assets freezes.
This decision increases the pressure on the regime to halt the ongoing repression and violence against peaceful protestors in Syria. The Council also signalled the EU's determination to take further measures without delay unless the regime changes course.
After the meeting, High Representative Catherine Ashton declared: "Our message is clear: Stop the violence now, respect human rights and embrace genuine and concrete reforms that people are asking for. Change course and respond to the needs and demands of the people."
The EU is deeply concerned at the continuing mass arrests, intimidations and cases of torture, which must stop immediately. Foreign media must be able to report on events going on in the country. The Council also condemns the arrests and intimidations of Syrian journalists.
It is also deeply troubled by the military closure of a number of cities, such as Deraa, Banias and Homs. Access to medical treatment and to basic services may not be blocked. Humanitarian organisations and humanitarian aid must have free right of entry to these areas.
The EU has also decided to suspend all current bilateral cooperation programs with Syria, as well as preparations for new ones, and to take no further steps towards signing the Association Agreement with Syria.
Press release (pdf)
Remarks by HR Catherine Ashton (pdf)
Council conclusions (pdf)
Press conference webcast