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EU & Syria
EU & Syria

EU “Split” over Syria Sanctions

(DP-News – European Voice )

EU- An EU diplomat said that a resistance was unlikely to prevent the adoption of new sanctions against Syria at a meeting of national foreign ministers on Monday (27 February), but that the sanctions were likely to contain numerous exemptions that might make them largely symbolic.

A push by the European Union's biggest member states for tougher sanctions against Syria has run into resistance from several southern EU countries, which fear that the sanctions could undermine their trade with the country.


France, Germany and the UK want to prohibit all transactions involving Syria's central bank, which could make trade with the country close to impossible. They also want to ban the import of phosphates, which are used in fertilisers and in certain industrial processes. But a group of southern member states led by Greece opposes both measures, seeking wide-ranging exemptions to ensure that trade with Syria can continue.





Greece, together with Italy and Spain, was also opposed to an oil embargo imposed against Iran – a Syrian ally – last month, although it relented after assurances from the EU that its supply would not be disrupted. The EU buys around 40% of Syria's phosphate exports, and Syria is among the world's leading exporters of the mineral.



The EU ministers are also expected to ban the trade in gemstones, gold and other precious metals, and to add several names to a list of persons whose assets have been frozen and who are banned from travel to the EU.



An EU official acknowledged that the existing sanctions against Syria, which include an oil embargo, have not had any discernable impact on President Bashar al-Assad's regime. He said the regime is fighting for its survival and is unlikely to respond to outside pressure.



However, the sanctions are thought to be having a disproportionate effect on Syrian traders in Damascus and Aleppo, who have so far backed President al-Assad's rule.



Press reports lately indicated “Syria's oil production has all but ground to a halt and the Syrian lira has lost more than half its value since the uprising began almost a year ago.”

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