Syria: EU tightens sanctions
© Floki Fotos, Fotolia.com
The EU's Foreign Affairs ministers at their meeting on 23 July 2012 decided to reinforce its restrictive measures against the Syrian regime. The arms embargo introduced a year ago will be strengthened: member states will have to inspect aircrafts and vessels bound for Syria where they have reasonable grounds to believe that their cargoes contain arms or equipment which might be used for repression of the population and to seize and dispose of such weapons or equipment if found.
"These sanctions are important because they will allow for ships to be examined to see what cargo they're carrying, and that will prevent, I hope, any arms reaching Syria," said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton.
The Council also froze the assets of three more entities supporting the regime and targeted 26 persons responsible for the violent repression with a travel ban and an asset freeze. This brings the total number of persons subject to sanctions to 155, while 52 entities are now affected by an EU assets freeze.
The Council also adopted conclusions condemning the ever-increasing use of force by the regime, including heavy artillery and shelling against populated areas. The EU remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian and human rights situation - breaches of international humanitarian law as well as the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The intensity of fighting and the spread of violence have increased the pressure on the Syrian population. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates the number of internally displaced persons at over 500 000. At the same time, over 100 000 people have registered as refugees in neighbouring states Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, according to the UNHCR.
So far, the EU has given humanitarian aid and civil protection assistance of more than 47 million euro and is willing to increase this if necessary. An additional 20 million euro of relief aid will bring the European Commission's total assistance in this crisis to 63 million euro. To date, member states have contributed 27.5 million euro in humanitarian aid.
Factsheet: The European Union and Syria (pdf)
Press release (pdf)
Council conclusions (pdf)
Remarks by High Representative Catherine Ashton following the Foreign Affairs Council (pdf)
Press conference webcast