President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Seif held an important meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini at the European Union headquarters in the Belgian capital Brussels on Friday.
The meeting was attended by a number of European officials. Seif headed a high-level delegation that included head of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) Jawad Abu Hatab, and members of the Coalition’s political committee and the General Assembly.
Seif stressed that the Europeans need to assume a bigger role in Syria and the Middle East. “We feel ashamed when we see statements condemning the Assad regime’s war crimes and crimes against humanity while there is no concrete action is taken to stop these crimes."
While Iran occupies Syria, Russia acts freely in the country, Seif said. On the other side, “our friends have not yet taken action to stop the aggression on Syria nor have they showed the required attention towards this aggression.”
The plan of action set out by the new presidential body aims to enhance the representation of women within the institutions of the Syrian opposition and in the decision-making process, Seif said. He called on the European Union to coordinate efforts with the United Nations to help find a solution for around 10 million Syrians who do not have travel documents.
For her part, Mogherini described the meeting with the Coalition delegation as important for her and her team. She reaffirmed full political support for the Syrian opposition and its participation in the Geneva process. She also pledged to support SIG projects.
The EU is already supporting projects aimed at bolstering the resilience of the Syrian people, the EU foreign policy chief said. The EU is looking for ways step up efforts on the economic level to manage the post-conflict phase, she said, adding that the EU sees the Coalition and its institutions as key partners.
Mogherini stressed that the political process in Geneva is the "basis" for any solution, pointing out that it however may not be the only path to reach a political solution. For the EU, the Astana agreements may be useful in helping to reduce violence on the ground.
Mogherini expressed concerns about division of Syria, stressing that the EU believes that Syria must remain united and highlighting the need for all sides to work for this end despite the difficulty of this mission. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition called on the European Union to end legal recognition of the Assad regime, stressing that such a move would send a clear message to the regime and its supporters that they will be held accountable for the war crimes they are committing against the Syrian people.
Seif was speaking during a meeting with EU officials headed by Chair of the EU Political and Security Committee Walter Stevens.
The meeting came as part of a two-day visit by a high-level Syrian Coalition delegation to the EU. The delegation included head of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) Jawad Abu Hatab and members of the Coalition’s political committee Anas Bahra and Hadi Bahra and member of the General Assembly Ruba Habboush.
Seif expressed appreciation for the support offered by the EU to the Syrian people and their rights. "We are pleased that the European Union has begun to develop a strategy aimed at greater coordination with the Syrian Coalition and SIG.”
“The Syrian people have always seen in Europe a beacon for the defense of human rights,” Seif added.
Seif stressed the need to punish institutions and individuals supporting the Assad regime, pointing out that the Assad regime continues to show utmost disregard to the UN Security Council resolutions on Syria by stepping up mass forced displacement, killing and destruction.
Member of the political committee Hadi Bahra said that the reconstruction process in Syria hinges on progress in the political process aimed at achieving a real political transition.
“To begin with reconstruction before a political solution is achieved will negatively impact the political process,” Bahra said. He stressed the need to give the Syrian people a chance to restore the decision-making process. “We want the Syrian people to decide their present and their future," Bahra said.
For his part, Stevens said that the European Union fully supports the Syrian opposition as a "strong partner” in the strategy announced by the EU on Syria at the Brussels conference.
The Syrian Coalition and SIG are major players in this strategy, Stevens said. He reaffirmed support for the Coalition and SIG’s efforts to bolster the resilience of the Syrian people.
Stevens also reiterated the EU support for the opposition negotiating delegation to the Geneva talks. The Coalition’s delegation, in addition to Coalition and SIG members, includes former Coalition leaders Anas al-Abdeh, Hadi al-Bahra, a member of the political body Hawass Khalil and a member of the General Assembly Rabi Haboush. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Vice-President of the Syrian Coalition Salwa Aksoy called on the US and Canadian governments to put pressure on the Assad regime to release prisoners in its prisons, especially women who are subjected to systematic, brutal torture.
Aksoy made her remarks during a meeting with Jill E. Hutchins, Political Officer in the US Syrian Transition Team, and Robin Wettlaufer, Representative of Canada to the Syrian Opposition, at the headquarters of the Syrian Coalition in Istanbul on Friday.
Aksoy called on the governments of the two countries to expose the regime’s crimes and violations against women and to step up support for organizations concerned in the affairs of female detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime.
Participants in the meeting discussed the political representation of women in the Syrian Coalition and opposition institutions and ways to empower Syrian women politically and make their voice heard loud and clear in international forums.
Aksoy urged the two friendly countries to support political transition in Syria as the most feasible way to provide a safe environment for women to assume greater role in the decision-making process. She went on to say that the survival of the Assad regime will jeopardized any process aimed at empowering Syrian women in society. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Algeria has agreed to take in the Syrian refugees trapped since mid-April in a desert area that borders neighboring Morocco, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Algerian ministry spokesman, Abdelaziz Benali Cherif, said Algeria will take in the refugees as an “exceptional humanitarian gesture.”
The 41 refugees will be housed and fed and if they wish be reunited with family members in a third country, the spokesman added.
The decision came two days after the UN refugee agency said the plight of the refugees, who include a pregnant woman, was “untenable”, urging Algeria and Morocco to work for a solution.
The decision was also prompted by calls by the Syrian Coalition and rights activists on the Algerian and Moroccan governments to work on addressing the plight of the Syrian refugees.
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Salwa Aksoy said that the Coalition contacted the government of the two countries and provided them with information on the numbers of refugees stranded at the borders.
Aksoy pointed that the Coalition has also stepped up its moves and contacted the Moroccan Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and appealed to the King of Morocco to help the refugees.
The Coalition is following up with the Algerian authorities to ascertain the situation of the Syrian refugees, Aksoy said. She expressed the hope that the Arab countries will offer concrete support for the struggle of the Syrian people to achieve freedom and dignity.
Algerian rights activists Anouar Malik praised Algeria's decision to receive the Syrian refugees. “I welcome the decision of the Algerian authorities to take in the Syrian refugees stranded in Morocco near the Algerian border after great efforts had been made in this regard,” Malik said in comments posted on Twitter Thursday. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)