Rosenthal wants to extend EU sanctions against Syria

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal seeks to extend EU sanctions against the Syrian government, to increase pressure on the Assad regime. The first step is to increase the number of persons on the EU sanctions list, to include accomplices as well as members of the regime. Specific individuals are already under consideration.

In addition, Mr Rosenthal wants sanctions against state-owned Syrian companies. 'We must cut off the regime's oxygen supply by tackling profitable state-owned enterprises, e.g. in the banking and telecoms sectors.' The United States has already taken such measures, and Mr Rosenthal wants the EU to follow suit.

The Minister also wants to explore sanctions in the energy sector, which provides the regime with foreign revenue, for instance through oil sales. However, any such sanctions must not endanger the population's access to, say, petrol.

The Minister emphasised that all sanctions are directed at the regime; the civilian population must not be allowed to suffer. Sanctions must be imposed by as many countries as possible to maximise their effect. The Minister said, 'By allowing this violence to continue, President Assad is making it harder and harder for himself to play a role in the new Syria. He has lost his legitimacy.'

The Netherlands has led the way within the EU in imposing sanctions, and will continue to do so. Mr Rosenthal has urged the Arab League to put more pressure on Assad; the League has now done so. On Wednesday, the Netherlands urged the Secretary-General of the League to take extra measures against the Syrian regime. Today Mr Rosenthal also spoke to the Syrian opposition leader Haitham Al-Maleh.