EU Foreign Ministers Set To Tighten Syria Sanctions
"The real issue of course is how to put the pressure on to stop the violence. I very much support the appointment of Kofi Annan as the envoy of the UN and the Arab League. I wish him speedy success in his discussions...We will continue to look at what we can do...especially today looking at sanctions," said Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative.
The situation has worsened in Syria over the last month, and in recent days the city of Homs has come under heavy attack from military forces, according to reports from the country. Respected US war reporter Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik were killed during the rocket attacks in Homs last week.
On his arrival at the meeting, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said he doesn't think that sanctions are enough to stop the violence in Syria, but that a concerted effort must be made with the UN and Arab League in order to stop a full-scale civil war. A war in Syria would have absolutely devastating humanitarian and political consequences in the country, said Bildt.
Although the UK and EU have been pushing for a regime change in Syria, their efforts that have been resisted by Syrian allies Russia and China which have blocked two successive UN Security Council resolutions essentially calling for Assad's replacement.
In the last year, over 5000 civilians have been killed by Assad's security forces as Syria slips inexorably into civil war. The country has been kicked out of the Arab League and President Bashar al-Assad's relations with the international community are going from bad to worse. Assad's crackdown on his political opposition has resulted in the deaths of many civilians and children, a fact that has been deplored by the UN and international leaders.
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