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Tánaiste discusses Syria, Libya and the Middle East with EU Partners

Speaking at the end of a two-day meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Sopot, Poland, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., said:

“The brutal attacks on civilians over the last months in Syria have appalled us all and have seriously undermined the legitimacy of President Assad and his regime. The basic choice for President Assad is to stop the violence and reform or step down.”

The Tánaiste welcomed the agreement by EU Foreign Ministers to impose an oil import embargo which will have a significant economic impact on the regime. The EU imports 96% of Syria’s crude oil imports. The Tánaiste added that:

“Ireland is also fully supportive of ongoing efforts at the UN to arrive at a new Resolution which will broaden the sanctions against the regime, while avoiding the impact that these have on ordinary people.”

On Libya, Ministers reiterated their commitment to supporting the National Transitional Council in the difficult task it faces in rebuilding Libya and establishing democratic and accountable institutions. The EU is working with other international partners to free up funds for the benefit of the Libyan population. The Tánaiste welcomed the progress made this week in agreeing the outline of a UN led civilian assistance mission. Ireland has consistently maintained that the UN should take the lead role in Libya going forward.

The Ministers also had a discussion on the Middle East Peace Process in light of expected developments on Palestinian statehood at the UN later this month.  The Tánaiste said:

“We had a very useful exchange of views on the Middle East.  We agreed on the importance of getting the two parties back to the negotiating table without delay, and the urgency of concluding a comprehensive agreement dealing with all of the key issues before it is too late”.