Monday, Jul 23, 2012
By Laurence Norman
BRUSSELS--New sanctions on Syria will target 26 people and three companies and oblige member states to inspect planes and ships at airports, ports and in territorial waters, European Union foreign ministers confirmed Monday afternoon.
In two statements following a lengthy discussion on the situation in Syria, EU foreign ministers also said the Syrian regime was in "blatant" breach of the United Nations' sponsored ceasefire plan and stated that the 27-nation bloc is "seriously concerned about the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria."
The foreign ministers confirmed that most of the new people targeted by the asset freeze and travel ban are from the army and the intelligence and security services of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
The ministers condemned what they said was "ever increasing use of force by the regime" and warned of the spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis on its neighbors. The bloc said it stands ready to "offer additional support, including financial, to help neighboring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan."
On his way out of the meeting, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the situation was "such that we should start to support...a representative government that can take over from Assad."
He confirmed that one of the entities being targeted was the flagship Syrian airline. He also said there were reports that up to 20,000 people had died in the conflict and warned of extremely serious concerns about Syria's chemical weapons stock, saying that these weapons were under "very specific scrutiny."
In a second statement, the EU gave some details on the inspections regime targeting Syria.
It said member states will be obliged to search vessels and planes if authorities "suspect the cargo contains arms or equipment for internal repression.
"Items that may not be exported to Syria under EU law must be seized. In addition, aircraft and vessels heading to Syria will have to provide additional pre-arrival and pre-departure information on their cargo."
However the ministers' statement confirmed the inspections regime would work "in accordance with international law."
That has caused some disagreement among member states on whether they must seek the permission of the flag the vessel is sailing under if they want to stop and search a ship in their territorial waters.
Write to Laurence Norman at Laurence.firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires