Unless engaging in political transition, no normalization with regime: EU Spokesperson

A session of the European Parliament in Brussels - July 2020 (Reuters)

A session of the European Parliament in Brussels - July 2020 (Reuters)


The EU Arabic Spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa stated that the European Union, which shows its commitment to the Syrian people by providing emergency relief, will not accept the marginalization of the political process in Syria.

Luis Miguel Bueno told Enab Baladi in an email about the mechanism for distributing European aid in Syria that the EU’s political position is that there is no possibility of normalization before the Syrian regime engages in a political transition process and fully implements Security Council Resolution No. 2254.

The EU sanctions imposed on Syria target the “Assad regime” and its supporters, as well as sectors of the economy from which the regime profits, Bueno said.

It also does not prohibit the export of food, medicine, or medical equipment by the European Union to Syria and does not target the healthcare system, and the sanctions regime includes a broad humanitarian exemption to ensure the continued provision of humanitarian assistance to any affected area in Syria, he added.

The spokesman stressed that the European Union has mobilized emergency and humanitarian tools to help the Syrians wherever they are, whether in areas controlled by the regime or in northwestern Syria and that European aid is based on needs, not on political considerations or considerations of any kind.

The spokesman also indicated that the European Union is cooperating with its partners in the humanitarian field to assess the level of damage and needs in all affected areas, calling on the “partners” to quickly adjust their grants to respond to the earthquake.

The European Union was involved in the humanitarian response process in Syria for those affected by the earthquake that struck the Turkish state of Kahramanmaraş and also affected four Syrian governorates on February 6, leaving tens of thousands of victims.

Since the earthquake rocked the northwestern region, aid planes have been flowing into Syria from “friendly” countries that have diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime and others that provided relief support within the framework of the humanitarian response, and the EU aid falls within this framework.

Six steps with two axes

The European Union activated six steps to deliver aid to Syria days after the earthquake.

It included the establishment of two axes, available by air and sea, to provide aid to the Syrians, one in Beirut, to reach areas controlled by the regime and the other in Gaziantep, Turkey.

According to the spokesman, tons of aid (tents, generators, heaters, and food) were delivered to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which delivered the aid to the northwest, where it is distributed to the needy.

This aid is received by EU staff, who coordinate the arrival before the aid continues to Syria.

After aid reaches Syria, the EU’s humanitarian partners distribute the materials received directly to people, and identify the most vulnerable people to provide them with aid, says the spokesperson.

Under the six steps, the European Union’s civil protection mechanism was activated, and 15 European countries provided aid, including tents, beds, blankets, heaters, hygiene supplies, generators, food, medical supplies, and more.

The aid was delivered to the most needy people in the areas controlled by the regime and in the northwest, according to the European spokesperson, who at the same time questioned the validity of the perceptions that the bulk of the aid goes to the regime-controlled areas.

Needs, not political or religious considerations

On the aid distribution mechanism, the spokesman said that the European Union is doing everything it can to take sufficient guarantees for the arrival of aid provided through the civil protection mechanism.

He referred to the experience of partner organizations and their possession of systems in place to ensure that aid reaches those in need.

The European Commission also monitors EU-funded humanitarian projects through audits and evaluations and also participates in the regional dialogue mechanism, during which procurement is constantly reviewed.

The European Union had to find a solution for how to deliver aid to the regime-controlled areas and northwestern Syria, and in addition to the offers of European countries, it activated the stock of European capacity for humanitarian response in Dubai and Brindisi.

Luis Miguel Bueno – The EU Spokesperson

Two planes carrying emergency aid landed in Damascus on February 26, and they are part of a series of planes transporting aid from European Union stocks to the Syrian people in various Syrian regions.

The European Union cooperates with a group of partners in the humanitarian field in Syria, including the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Aid is always based on needs, not on political, religious, or any other considerations, the EU spokesperson emphasized.

In addition to its humanitarian aid, the European Union constantly renews its call for a political solution to the conflict in Syria under the auspices of the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, which the Union fully supports, according to Bueno.

Temporary exemptions

On February 23, the European Union issued a six-month amendment, including exemptions to the sanctions it imposes on the regime.

According to the amendment, the need for humanitarian organizations to obtain prior permission from the competent national authorities in member states to transfer or provide goods and services intended for humanitarian purposes to Syrian persons and entities on the EU sanctions lists was waived.

The EU justified this step at the time, by facilitating the rapid delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria, given the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis, which was exacerbated by the earthquake, according to the press release published on the European Union’s official website at the time.

The Syrian regime also demanded the activation of the civil protection mechanism in the European Union, which is what actually happened, as the Union activated this mechanism as one of the six steps it took to deliver aid to Syria after the earthquake, which included supporting humanitarian partners on the ground, activating the protection mechanism and the European humanitarian response capacity, establishing two axes to provide aid, coordinating with partners in the humanitarian field to reach the Syrians, and distributing aid to the people who deserve it.

Since the Feb.6 earthquake, the Syrian regime has tended to exploit the catastrophe politically by linking the aid file to its demand to lift the sanctions imposed by the EU and the US as a result of cracking down peaceful protests and its security repression since the revolution erupted in 2011.

The devastating earthquake resulted in the death of 1,414 people in regime-controlled areas and 2,274 people in the northwestern region that hosts more than 3.5 million people, between residents and internally displaced persons, who mainly suffer from a lack of aid and harsh living conditions.



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