With international pressure mounting on Syria following its suspension from the Arab League, EU foreign ministers have gathered in Brussels to thrash out even stricter sanctions against Damascus.
The measures are expected to target more individuals linked with Syrian regime’s crackdown against pro-democracy protesters.
For the moment, however, Europe’s leaders are refusing to respond to the violence in Syria, as they did in Libya.
“I don’t think it is the same direction, I don’t think it’s the same situation. No two country’s are the same and it’s very obvious to me that we have to work very closely with (Arab League Secretary General) Nabil al-Arabi, that the Arab League has taken a strong position and is making clear to Syria — where they have regular contacts — what needs to happen. It’s a situation that we have to watch very very carefully.”
Despite the reluctance of many western nations to use military intervention in Syria, France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called for more action to protect the Syrian civilian population.
‘‘I am delighted that the Arab League has taken a position of great clarity and firmness. It has tried to mediate, which we also support and encourage. This mediation has failed to stop the leadership of this bloody regime in Damascus and now the moment has arrived to help protect the Syrian people more.’‘
Berlin also called on Russia and China to change position in the UN. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: “I hope that those in the Security Council who were doubtful about having a clear stance and a common policy towards the Assad-regime have now changed their minds because of the Arab League’s decision.”
EU ministers are also seeking to block Damascus’ access to funds from the European Investment Bank. Along with agreeing tougher measures against Syria, EU ministers are to support more sanctions on Iran.