EU gives cautious welcome to latest Syria peace talks

The EU has given a cautious welcome to the latest Russian-led efforts to ensure the fragile ceasefire in war-torn Syria holds.

Syrian refugee camp | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

09 Feb 2017

At recent intra-Syrian talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, Russia proposed a draft to serve as a guide for the Syrian constitution. 

The paper outlines that it will be the Syrians who draft the final version, taking into account proposals made by both sides - the government and the opposition.

The draft did not receive a warm reception in some quarters for various reasons, including what are seen as some controversial proposals.


But an official at the European External Action Service (EEAS) told this website that the move should be welcomed.

Speaking on Thursday, the official added the decision (taken during the Astana meeting on 23-24 January) to establish a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire is a "concrete step" in further implementation of UN resolutions.

The official said, "We support the UN readiness to assist the parties to the trilateral mechanism in developing such a mechanism, and ensure that it helps strengthen the quality of the ceasefire.

"The EU is doing all possible to ensure the success of the February Geneva intra-Syrian talks under the UN auspices, notably through its regional initiative to facilitate a common regional understanding on the future of Syria."

Meanwhile, the worsening security situation in eastern Ukraine, where heavy fighting with pro-Russian rebels recently broke out in the government-controlled town of Avdiivka, has been condemned by MEPs.

Deputies on the security and defence subcommittee voiced concern about the upsurge in violence in an exchange of views with Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. 

Committee members urged Russia to "stop testing the west's reactions and to go on implementing the Minsk agreements."

Klympush-Tsintsadze told the meeting, "The ceasefire continues to be violated by Russia and its proxies in eastern Ukraine."

She told MEPs that a new escalation of violence by pro-Russian rebels against the Ukrainian controlled city of Avdiivka had resulted in the deaths of 15 Ukrainian solders and three civilians.

Avdiivka is on the verge of humanitarian crisis as the fighting had resulted in electricity and heating supply cuts, and repairs had been hampered by pro-Russian rebels until Sunday, she warned.

Some MEPs called on the EU to be more proactive and to start discussing the possibility of deploying an EU common security and defence policy mission to Ukraine.

A majority on the committee also backed a call to debate the situation in eastern Ukraine at Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg next week.


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