I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland+ and Serbia*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Albania, the EFTA countries Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
We strongly support the resolution regarding the situation in Syria introduced by the Arab Group.
The EU stands by the Syrian people at this critical juncture in their peaceful and courageous struggle for freedom, dignity, democracy and human rights. It strongly condemns the ever increasing use of force by the regime, including use of heavy artillery and shelling from tanks, aircrafts and combat helicopters, against populated areas in blatant violation of its obligations under the Annan Plan and UNSC resolutions 2042 and 2043. We urge the Syrian regime to end immediately the killing of civilians, cease the use of heavy weapons, withdraw these weapons and the Syrian army from besieged towns and cities in order to allow for a peaceful transition. International humanitarian law must be respected by all. We are deeply concerned about the recent intensification of violence, including in Damascus and Aleppo. The only way out of this violence leads via a political transition that would meet the democratic and participatory aspirations of the Syrian people and bring back stability in Syria. The EU remains committed to the sovereignty, independence, national unity and territorial integrity of Syria.
The European Union recalls its full support to the Joint UN-League of Arab States Special Envoy’s mission and his Six-Point Plan that must be implemented immediately and visibly. The EU commends the efforts of Mr. Kofi Annan who announced his resignation as the UN-LAS Joint special Envoy to Syria. The EU has provided its full backing to the work of Mr. Annan throughout his mandate and his efforts to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. We continue to support the efforts of the UN and the LAS: this resignation stresses the urgency of a full, verifiable and immediate implementation of the Six-Point plan to allow for a political transition. The EU underlines that those whose presence would undermine the transition should be excluded and that President Assad, in this regard, has no place in the future of Syria.
The EU calls for united action by all members of the UNSC to exert a more robust and effective pressure and ensure that there will be serious consequences for continued non compliance with its previous decisions.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation and breaches of international humanitarian law in Syria. The systematic and widespread human rights violations committed by the regime demonstrate its outright contempt for human rights. We are also concerned about recent reports of alleged use of cluster munitions against civilians. We reaffirm our support to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria and its investigations into alleged violations of international human rights law with a view to hold to account those responsible for such violations, including for those that may amount to crimes against humanity. The EU recalls that all those responsible for widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations must be held accountable.
Recalling that the main responsibility for the current crisis lies with the Syrian authorities, the EU warns against further militarisation of the conflict and sectarian violence which can only bring further suffering to Syria and risks having a tragic impact on the region. In this regard, the EU expresses concern about the protection of civilians, in particular vulnerable groups and religious communities. We are also concerned about the influx of weapons into Syria. Therefore, we call on all States to refrain from delivering arms to the country.
The EU is seriously concerned about the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria. The EU calls upon Syria to strictly abide by its obligations under the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The EU attaches the greatest importance to the safe and secure storage of these weapons of mass destruction. It expresses its hope that a future Syria will accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention, thus joining the aspirations of the international community to ban and universally and completely eradicate this category of WMD.
The EU continues to urge all opposition groups to put aside their differences and to agree on a set of shared principles and start working towards an inclusive, orderly and peaceful transition in Syria. In this regard, we welcome the efforts made by the opposition groups in recent meetings to elaborate on a common vision for the political transition of Syria in the post-Assad era. All Syrians must have a place in the new Syria and enjoy equal rights, regardless of their origin, affiliations, religion, beliefs or gender.
The EU remains deeply concerned about the spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis in neighbouring countries in terms of security and stability. It calls on the Syrian regime to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of neighbouring countries.
We call on all parties to allow full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian workers, to respect international humanitarian law, including the respect and protection of civilians, and as a first step, to facilitate the implementation of humanitarian pauses to allow for the safe delivery of humanitarian aid. The EU stands ready to offer additional support including financial to help neighboring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan, to host the increasing number of Syrian refugees fleeing violence in Syria.The EU will increase its humanitarian assistance to the Syrians, including internally displaced persons and refugees, and call upon all countries to do likewise, in a transparent and coordinated manner with particular attention paid to UN coordinated humanitarian response plans.
The EU approved on 23 July the designation of new persons and entities to be subject to restrictive measures, in particular members of the Army and the intelligence and security services directly involved in the repression of the civilian population. We also agreed on measures to strengthen the enforcement of its arms embargo. The EU will continue its policy of imposing additional measures targeting the regime, not the civilian population, as long as repression continues. We will also continue to urge the international community to join its efforts, in taking steps to apply and enforce restrictive measures on the Syrian regime and its supporters.
The EU recalls that as soon as a genuine democratic transition begins, it is ready to develop a new and ambitious partnership with Syria across all areas of mutual interest, including by mobilizing assistance, strengthening trade and economic relations and supporting transitional justice and the political transition.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.