Minister attends Syria summit: pressure on Syria to be stepped up, €1m in emergency aid pledged

The Netherlands is to give €1m in emergency aid to the Syrian people. Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal made this announcement at a meeting in Tunis today at which a group of like-minded countries established the ‘Friends of Syria’. ‘This meeting of over 60 countries and international organisations demonstrates the international community’s impatience,’ said Mr Rosenthal.  

‘We will intensify pressure on the Syrian regime, impose even stricter sanctions and rigorously implement them. Our aim is to ensure that the criminal Assad regime is as isolated as possible. The violence must stop, and Assad must resign to pave the way for the transition to a democratic government.’

Mr Rosenthal said he was looking forward to working with the recently appointed UN special envoy for Syria, the former UN chief Kofi Annan.

The minister highlighted the importance of a united opposition. ‘The more closely they work together, the more their voices will be heard,’ he said. ‘The opposition should draw up a plan for political transition, in which religious and ethnic minorities have a role and respect for women’s rights is guaranteed.’

The ‘Friends of Syria’ will henceforth regard the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

The Netherlands is supporting the opposition financially, providing expert assistance on combating internet censorship, documenting human rights violations and helping with news gathering.

The Tunis summit also discussed the acute humanitarian situation in Syria. The participating countries agreed to provide aid to the Syrian population. The Netherlands is responding to an appeal by the World Food Programme. ‘We are doing whatever we can to help the innocent victims of the violence in Syria,’ said Mr Rosenthal.