European Union Pledges to Continue Holding Regime Figures Accountable

On the Syrian war's ten-year anniversary, the European Union has promised to renew sanctions on prominent government figures, writes The Levant News.

On Sunday, the European Union issued a statement on the occasion of the ten-year anniversary of the Syrian conflict, in which it considered that the brutal repression practiced by the regime against the Syrian people, and its failure to address the root causes of the uprising, led to the escalation and internationalization of the armed conflict.

The statement, issued by the High Representative on behalf of the EU, indicated that over the past ten years, countless violations of human rights and massive violations of international humanitarian law by all parties, particularly by the Syrian regime, have caused immense human suffering.

Accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law is of utmost importance as a legal condition and a central element in achieving sustainable peace and real reconciliation in Syria, according to the statement. 

The High Representative also explained that the Syrian refugee crisis is the largest displacement crisis in the world, with 5.6 million registered refugees and 6.2 million displaced inside Syria, under conditions that are not conducive to their safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable return, in line with international law.

Moreover, the conflict has had serious repercussions throughout the region, and beyond, namely fueling terrorist organizations. The EU stated that all actors in Syria should focus on the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) and that preventing the re-emergence of the terrorist organization remains a priority.

The statement noted that the conflict in Syria has not ended yet, that the EU is still firm, and continues to demand an end to the repression, the release of detainees, and that the Syrian regime and its allies engage in a meaningful way in the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

The statement pledged to renew targeted EU sanctions on prominent members and regime entities at the end of May, all the while pointing out that the EU has not changed its policy and is still committed to the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Syrian state.

In the statement, the EU said it will be ready to support free and fair elections in Syria, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and under the supervision of the UN, in a manner that satisfies governance and the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, enabling all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, to participate.

The Europeans considered that the elections organized by the Syrian regime, such as the parliamentary elections that took place last year or the presidential elections scheduled for later this year, do not meet these criteria, and therefore, cannot contribute to settling the conflict and lead to any measure of international normalization with the Syrian regime.

Media sources reported that, in the coming days, a proposal to condemn the Turkish presence in Syria will be discussed in the European Parliament and voted on by the social democrats as well as reformists and conservatives.

According to the proposal, the text submitted to the European Parliament indicated that “Turkey has been violating international law since 2016 because it has occupied the north of the country, occupying the areas inhabited by the Kurds. It also occupied the areas of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in October 2019, which led member countries of the EU to officially stop the sale of arms to Turkey.”

The proposal also stresses the need to take the necessary measures to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable in Syria, as it referred to the Caesar report as an example of war crimes committed in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicated, about a week ago, that the governor of the Turkish state of Urfa, accompanied by some Turkish officials and the commander of the Turkish Gendarmerie forces, visited Ras al-Ayn, part of what is known as the Peace Spring region in the northwestern countryside of Hassakeh.

The Observatory pointed out that the governor of Urfa and the Turkish officials wandered through the city’s markets, in addition to talking to a large number of people in the city. The visit of the governor of Urfa and Turkish officials coincided with a large spread of elements of the pro-Turkish National Army throughout the city of Ras al-Ayn. Some of the main roads in the city were closed. 

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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