Europe increases pressure on Syria

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Europe increases pressure on Syria

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EU foreign ministers have given the green light for a raft of new sanctions against Syria. Meeting in Brussels, Europe’s top diplomats agreed to target Syria’s central bank and several government ministers in an attempt to curb funding to Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal also said there had been talks over a possible peace keeping mission: ‘‘We tried our utmost to see whether we could arrange, at a certain moment, for a peace keeping mission to Syria, but peace keeping does mean that there should be peace. So, the first priority is for the violence in Syria to stop.’‘

The new punitive measures are expected to be enforced this week. But any decision by the EU to recognise Syria’s opposition still seems to be in limbo.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: “We haven’t got into conditions for recognition. In fact, we have not had a formal discussion about recognition yet. We work with all of the people who are trying to find a solution.’‘

Today’s decisions complement an oil embargo imposed on Syria in September.

But as euronews’ Fariba Mavaddat at the European Council explains: ‘‘While the EU appears to have committed itself to helping the Syrian people topple President Assad’s regime, it is hard to see how it can achieve this without recognising the legitimacy of the opposition movement and impose effective measures in the face of continued Russian and Chinese opposition.’‘