Tánaiste joins other EU Foreign Ministers in increasing pressure on Syria to end violence27 February 2012
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., supported the strengthening of international pressure on the Assad regime at today’s meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels. Speaking following the Council, the Tánaiste said:
“We cannot stand aside and allow what is happening in Syria. The situation there is appalling, with over 8,000 people killed, 70,000 in detention and up to three million people in need of food, medical and other humanitarian assistance. I strongly urged the EU to step up diplomatic and political pressure on Syria.
I welcome the decision to impose new EU sanctions. These are designed to maintain pressure on the Assad regime to end the violence. We need to have a cessation of the hostilities in order to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered and to allow the UN-Arab League’s special envoy Kofi Annan to continue his work to implement the Arab League’s peace plan.”
The EU sanctions include a ban on the trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds with Syrian public bodies; a ban on access to EU airports for cargo flights operated by Syrian carriers; a freeze on assets of the Syrian central bank within the EU; and, a freeze on the assets and visa ban on seven ministers of the Syrian government who are associated with human rights violations.
The Tánaiste also joined his EU counterparts in a discussion on the situation in Egypt, recent developments in the Southern Caucasus, and the Middle East Peace Process.
The Tánaiste also welcomed recent progress in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo:
“Ireland believes that Serbia should be granted candidate status. We are also supportive of Kosovo’s European perspective”.
Before today’s Council, the Tánaiste addressed the Brussels branch of the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA) on Ireland’s role in the world. The Tánaiste reflected on Ireland’s on-going chairmanship-in-office of the OSCE and looked ahead to Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2013. He also added that Ireland hopes to advance the promotion and protection of human rights in a number of key areas if elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council later this year.