The European Union, following the US example, is only toughening the sanctions regime against Syria, which is having a devastating effect on the situation in the country and it is necessary to abandon this practice, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said this at a briefing on Thursday.
"We call on the European Union to show common sense and return to the international legal field. It is time to finally lift the EU's illegitimate unilateral restrictions on Damascus for the benefit of the Syrian people, which the Western community cares so much about, as well as, generally speaking, in the name of regional stability and security," she said.
Zakharova stressed that despite all the appeals of the international community, "no serious easing of Western sanctions regimes has been undertaken" against Damascus, which has faced acute difficulties due to the pandemic. "Given the coronavirus pandemic factor, such unilateral restrictions by Western states provoked last year a sharp worsening of the socio-economic crisis in Syria," the diplomat explained. She added that the Syrian people are the first to suffer from the restrictions.
Zakharova believes that the EU does not contribute to improving the situation, even with humanitarian exemptions, which "were announced by the European Commission," but in reality "proved to be ineffective and practically useless". According to the diplomat, this system has only scared away European operators with an abundance of bureaucratic hurdles instead of stimulating business relations with representatives of the humanitarian and medical sectors in the sanctioned states. And in the case of the recent inclusion of Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad on the sanctions list, the EU explicitly indicated its unwillingness to engage in dialogue with the republic's government on further settlements.
"This, in fact, is one of the links in the chain of actions that prevent the normalization of the situation in and around Syria. In fact, it is a demonstrative refusal to negotiate with the Syrian government. <...> We express our deep regret that such actions of the European Union not only don't help to overcome the consequences of the long and destructive crisis in Syria, but simply make it worse," concluded the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
On EU sanctions
On January 15, the European Union added the Syrian Foreign Minister to the list of individuals and entities subject to unilateral EU restrictive measures. An EU Council statement noted that Mikdad, as a member of the Syrian government, "is responsible for the authorities' repression of the civilian population."
The EU sanctions list includes the entire Syrian leadership, including President Bashar al-Assad and members of his family. All of them are banned from entering the territory of the EU. Earlier, the EU added eight new ministers to the sanctions list, joining the Syrian government headed by Prime Minister Hussein Arnous, which was created on August 30.
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Photo: Press Service of the Russian Foreign Ministry / TASS
Based on materials from TASS