In view of the West’s and the United States of America’s persistent rejection of the Arab opening to Damascus, the European Union has decided to cancel the scheduled meeting with the Arab League following Syria’s return to the League. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed his disappointment with the European decision, stating that it was regrettable.
During a joint press conference with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Cairo on Sunday, Shoukry remarked, “The European Union should have appreciated the decision to reinstate Syria’s membership in the Arab League. However, cancelling the long-awaited meeting with the Arab League, which had not been convened for four years, is a regrettable decision. The Arab decision to support the Syrian people, who have endured a decade of suffering, is aimed at restoring stability to Syria,” as reported by the Russia Today channel.
Shoukry emphasized that “Syria’s readmission to the Arab League is a collective decision by Arab countries. It was formulated by the Arab Contact Group in coordination with the Syrian side, with specific conditions to restore relations between Arab nations and Syria.”
Shoukry’s comment followed remarks made by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who highlighted that the Arab-European ministerial meeting, scheduled for this week, had been postponed due to Syria’s renewed participation in the Arab League. During the press conference alongside the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Borrell stated, “The European Union’s stance remains unchanged unless Damascus demonstrates progress in implementing United Nations resolutions, particularly Security Council resolution 2554. As a result, the European Union and the Arab League jointly agreed to postpone the meeting at the European Union’s request.”
Borrell further mentioned that “the previous ministerial meeting between the two sides took place in February 2018 in Brussels, and the Arab-European ministerial meeting was originally planned for this week. However, the decision to postpone it was made due to Syria’s reentry into the Arab League.” He also noted, “The European Union respects the Arab League’s sovereign decision to readmit Syria into the organization,” as reported by Russia Today.
Following Syria’s reinstatement into the Arab League, the US State Department emphasized that “at this stage, Washington does not believe that Syria deserves to regain its membership in the Arab League.”
Gulf pressure on EU
Earlier reports from Bloomberg have revealed that officials from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are pressuring the European Union to establish closer ties with Damascus and lift sanctions imposed on Syria. According to sources familiar with the matter, “Saudi and Emirati officials have been applying pressure on their European Union counterparts at various levels for several months.” These sources further noted that diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the Syrian conflict have not achieved their intended objectives without the easing of sanctions, which would help stimulate the Syrian economy.
In addition, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar previously cited a Saudi diplomatic source who confirmed the existence of Gulf-led initiatives aimed at mediating between the West and Syria. The source stated, “In order to achieve more than the restoration of diplomatic relations, the opening of embassies, and limited humanitarian assistance in certain areas, it is necessary to strike a balance between the West, Russia, and the Arab role while addressing the concerns of Damascus.”
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.