Saturday, May 7, 2011

The EU sanctioned thirteen members of the Syrian regime, but not the president

The countries of the European Union reached political agreement on Friday to punish the Syrian regime figures 13 in response to the violent suppression of protests in the country, has said a diplomatic source. In that list does not appear Syrian President Bashar Assad, despite several Member States pressed for it included.

The sanctions were formally adopted early next week and will involve European travel ban and assets freeze on EU territory of those affected, according to the same source. The approval will take place through the so-called "silence procedure", whereby a text is taken on a certain date if no country is against.

Syria agreed measures for the Twenty-seven are imposed in previous cases against the regimes that have suppressed violently unleashed the wave of demonstrations in the Arab world in recent months. The exclusion of Bashar al-Assad to the sanctions list does not imply that it can not be affected in the near future because this type of list is kept under constant review and may expand rapidly.

This will be the first European package of sanctions against Syria, but could be together soon for further action. On Friday, the ambassadors of the Twenty-seven agreed to impose an arms embargo against Syria, an action that has not been made official as the European experts are still working on it to make it effective soon.

Also at that meeting, Member States also undertook to review "all aspects of its cooperation with the Syrian authorities," explained then in a statement the head of EU diplomacy, Catherine Ashton. Cooperation programs in place include a heading of 129 million euros from 2011-2013 devoted to supporting political and economic reforms and an investment portfolio of 1,300 million euros through the European Investment Bank (EIB), one of the most important in the region.

Since 2007 the EU has granted to the Arab country of 80 million euros to help the authorities to cope with the influx of Iraqi refugees. At the same time, the Twenty-seven agreed to halt any progress towards an association agreement with Syria, which Damascus offered the block for years, but has never come to fruition.

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