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EU Foreign Ministers to Discuss Reconstruction Money for Syria

The conflict in Syria is now reaching another diplomatic deadlock as the European Union continues to discuss its possible reconstruction efforts for said nation. France’s UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said to Gulf News that the European Union will not give any aid in the reconstruction of Syria “unless a political transition is effectively carried out – with constitutional and electoral processes carried out in a sincere and meaningful way.”

Delattre noted that this political transition is vital to promote socio-economic stability in the country. He declared that it’s the condition for France to contribute to the mission. The bureaucrat exclaimed, “Without that, nothing can justify having France and the European Union engage in financing reconstruction.” 

Reconstruction still not feasible

However, an EU official who refused to be named said that the conditions for reconstruction and return of refugees are still not viable. Euractiv relayed the opinion of the minister indicating that Russia wants the EU to pay for the efforts even if al-Assad’s administration does not intend to share power over Syria. This means that the country is still unsafe for both refugees and all personnel delivering foreign aid.

This is all after Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed the bloc to give Syria necessary aid to fully rehabilitate the country. Putin detailed that humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of the Syrian conflict is necessary to ease the immigrant crisis. His statement is in light of the immigrant influx in Europe. The situation has drawn sharp political lines among countries in the bloc, and has put pressure on their respective governments.

On the other hand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron echoed the EU’s line that lasting peace can only be achieved after an inclusive political process. Merkel stated that their top priority is “to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe” which could happen anytime as long as the political transition in Syria is incomplete.

Still a long way to go

The seven-year civil war between the Syrian Arab Republic of President Bashar al-Assad and various opposition forces has displaced millions of Syrians. Al-Assad’s government is backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. And according to a previous report here on Romania Journal, the opposition are rebel groups supported by a US-led coalition. In March 2017, the United Nations led the Geneva peace talks on Syria.

While the geopolitical tension and military conflict are subsiding, Syria is still beset by numerous problems. Humanitarian organization Save the Children indicates that the prices of food and other essential items increased by as much as 800% in places not under government control.

EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini stated that the EU has already spent almost a billion euros ($1.10 billion) on humanitarian missions, and delivering basic necessities as well as healthcare are the primary objectives. More international aid is expected to pour in to ease the return of millions of refugees as well. President al-Assad, however, is adamant that he will not accept Western funding for Syria’s rehabilitation. He claimed that his regime has enough strength for the country’s rehabilitation.

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