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Tánaiste joins EU Foreign Ministers in increasing pressure on Syria

Security, Press Releases, Middle East and North Africa, 2012

BRUSSELS, 23 March, 2012 - At today’s meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., strongly condemned the continuing indiscriminate violence and human rights abuses in Syria and insisted on urgent humanitarian access for international agencies. 

Speaking following the Foreign Affairs Council, the Tánaiste said: 

"At today's meeting we discussed the appalling situation in Syria where the Assad regime continues its indiscriminate killing of Syrian civilians. There have been so far more than 8,000 deaths, with thousands more in detention and an estimated 3 million in need of humanitarian aid. There is an urgent need for international humanitarian access.

The Foreign Affairs Council today agreed to a number of additional EU sanctions. The clear message is that supporting the Assad regime has a price. Conversely, those who disassociate from the regime will be removed from the list of restrictive measures."

Among those to be included in the list are President Assad's mother, wife and sister; the Ministers for Electricity and Local Authorities and several ministers of state; a number of prominent Syrian businessmen; and entities including the Syrian Petroleum Company. 

The Tánaiste and EU Foreign Ministers strongly endorsed the work of UN-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan to achieve a ceasefire, improve humanitarian access and promote a political transition. The Conclusions from today's meeting also stated the EU's full support for continued efforts at the Security Council to agree a Resolution on Syria. 

The Tánaiste and his EU counterparts also discussed the Sahel region with particular reference to the apparent coup d’état in Mali. The EU is ready to respond to the growing food crisis in the region, with more that 8 million people vulnerable to food shortages. 

The Tánaiste and his EU colleagues also discussed a wide range of issues with the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, including the Syrian crisis.