EU Suspend talks with Syria, reassess ties with Bahrain and Yemen, EP says
The EU must reassess its bilateral relations with Syria, Bahrain and Yemen in the light of their violent repression of demonstrators, and talks on a future Association Agreement with Syria must be suspended, members of the European Parliament said on Thursday as they passed a resolution in Strasbourg.
MEPs are also concerned about the presence of international troops in Bahrain and call for an investigation into the death of 54 protestors in Yemen.
EU negotiations on the still-pending Association Agreement with Syria must be suspended until the Syrian authorities carry out “expected tangible democratic reforms”, say MEPs. The resignation of Syria’s government on 29 March “will not be enough to satisfy the growing frustrations of the people”, they add. President Bashar al-Assad must put an end to repression of political opposition and human right defenders, lift the state of emergency and undertake genuine political, economic and social reforms, says the resolution.
The use of violence by a state against its own people must always have direct consequences, stresses the resolution, drafted by the EPP, S&D, ALDE, Greens/EFA and ECR groups and passed by a show of hands. MEPs therefore call on both the EU and national governments to revise bilateral relations with Bahrain and Yemen, and consider imposing asset freezes or travel bans. The text condemns interference by the authorities of both countries in the provision of medical treatment and denial of access to health facilities for injured protestors.
MEPs state their “concern at the presence of foreign troops under the Gulf Cooperation Council banner in Bahrain”. They call on this body to “to mediate in the interest of peaceful reforms” and call on all parties to engage in constructive dialogue without preconditions.
Parliament wants independent investigations into attacks on protestors in all three countries. In the case of Yemen, the UN or the International Criminal Court should lead an enquiry into the 18 March attacks, in which 54 people were killed and more than 300 injured, it says. Parliament is deeply worried about the extent of poverty and unemployment in Yemen, and believes that the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council should grant it specific financial and technical support as soon as President Saleh is ready to make way for a democratically-established government.