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Minister says that Ireland will focus on the Syrian conflict during our EU Presidency

European Union, Press Releases, Middle East and North Africa, 2012

Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello today pledged that Ireland will prioritise efforts to promote a solution to the devastating conflict in Syria during our Presidency of the EU. Speaking ahead of a meeting of Friends of Syria in Morocco today, attended by more than 70 foreign ministers from around the world, Minister Costello said:

“Ireland stands with all those seeking to end the bloody repression which the Assad government has inflicted upon its own people. We support calls for the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court and this will be a priority for Ireland when we join the UN Human Rights Council next month. Similarly, we will prioritise efforts to seek an overall resolution to the crisis during our Presidency of the EU in the first six months of 2013.”

Minister Costello also reaffirmed Ireland’s strong support for the efforts of the UN/Arab League Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, to end the conflict as well as welcoming the establishment of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces:

“This is an important breakthrough in the efforts to forge a unified opposition, capable of          setting out a credible, inclusive, democratic vision to the Syrian people. We encourage the       Coalition to reach out to all strands of Syrian society, and to work closely with Special Representative Brahimi and the international community in the pursuit of a peaceful resolution.”

Minister Costello described the plight of the Syrian people as appalling and called on the international community to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of civilians caught up in the conflict.  The Minister said:

“Over the past twenty one months, more than 40,000 people are estimated to have died, while millions have fled their homes, many of them seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. I witnessed this when I visited the Zatari refugee camp in Jordan last August.

“Ireland has contributed some €2.45 million in emergency assistance to date and continues to monitor the humanitarian needs on the ground.  We must also increase pressure on all sides in Syria to fully respect international humanitarian law and facilitate humanitarian access at all times.”