Head of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) Jawad Abu Hatab said that bilateral relations with the European Union are increasingly developing, stressing that SIG is continuing to develop projects to administer the liberated areas, empower the opposition institutions and provide essential services to all Syrian citizens.
Abu Hatab said that his visit to Brussels with a Syrian Coalition delegation headed by President Riad Seif was an important follow-up to previous visits. He described the meeting on Friday with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini as “very important with regards to supporting SIG and its projects."
The meetings with the EU officials stressed SIG’s important role in the Syrian society and in preserving the unity of the Syrian territory. They also focused on supporting SIG institutions to effectively administer the liberated areas and provide basic services to the civilian population.
Abu Hatab went on to say that there are five projects being worked on with the European Union in the areas of education, health, agriculture, internal affairs, documentation, the issuance of identification papers, identification cards, and travel documents, as well as the empowerment of local councils to effectively administer the liberated areas.
A Coalition delegation has conducted a two-day visit to the European Union during which they met a number of European officials. In addition to President Seif and SIG’s head Abu Hatab, the delegation included former Coalition presidents Anas Abdah and Hadi Bahra, member of the political committee Hawas Khalil, and member of the General Assembly Ruba Habboush. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Arabic 21 Newspaper)
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)
President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Seif on Thursday met with Jean-Louis de Brouwer, Director of Humanitarian and Civil Protection Operations Civilians at the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels on Thursday. Seif is accompanied by head of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) Jawad Abu Hatab and members of the Coalition’s political committee.
Seif stressed that the mass forced displacement carried out by the Assad regime forces aimed at changing the demographic landscape in Syria constitute a war crime under international law. He stressed the need to take concrete, urgent action to ensure the safe return of the displaced people to their towns and villages.
Seif warned of a humanitarian disaster during the ongoing operation to capture Raqqa from ISIS, stressing that fighting terrorism could only be achieved through the elimination of its root cause, namely the Assad regime.
For his part, De Brouwer reaffirmed the importance of cooperation with the Syrian Coalition and the Syrian Interim Government in the next phase and pointed to the need for frequent meetings between the two sides.
In addition to Seif and Abu Hatab, the Coalition’s delegation included members of the political committee Anas Abda, Hadi Bahra, and Haws Khalil as well as member of the General Assembly Ruba Haboush.
Seif is set to meet the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Friday to discuss the situation in Syria and EU support for the opposition and the Syrian Interim Government. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Nasr Hariri, head of the delegation of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) to Geneva talks, said that the Syrian opposition is merely testing Russia’s true intentions and conviction towards a political settlement in accordance with the Geneva 2012 Communique and the UN Security Council resolutions 2218 and 2254.
In interview with Asharq Al-Awsat published on Thursday, Hariri said that it is not possible to accept Iran as a guarantor state for the recently signed de-escalation zones agreement in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.
“One of the major reservations is that Iran cannot be considered a guarantor state, given it has long aided and abetted the regime in its destruction, mass forced displacement, and besiegement of the Syrian people,” Hariri told the London-based newspaper.
Hariri stressed that the embattled Assad regime is not serious about the whole negotiation process. “The Assad regime continue to exist by virtue of major international and regional states and in light of the international community’s continued silence and its failure to exercise pressure on the regime.”
"As the conflict entered its seventh year, there is no army, no security forces, no state, no institutions. The Assad regime barley controls 22 percent of Syria's territory. The Assad regime no longer calls the shots in Syria, but the Iranian and Russian-backed militias.”
Iran is a partner to the regime’s crimes as it has sent tens of thousands of militants to prop up the Assad regime in its war against the Syrian people, Hariri added. He stressed that the policies Iran is pursuing in Syria risk fueling tensions and increase divisions among the Syrian people and most importantly risk fueling terrorism.
Victories being achieved by the Free Syrian Army against the ISIS extremist group is not in the interest of the Assad regime, Hariri said. He added that any FSA progress against ISIS represents a victory over forces linked to the regime and its allies.
Hariri went on to say that any advances by the FSA groups against ISIS will expose the Assad regime which tries to portray itself as the only force fighting terrorism in Syria. He stressed the importance of battles being waged by the FSA against ISIS in the Yarmouk basin in southern Syria, near the Iraqi border, and in northeastern Syria.
The chief Syrian opposition negotiator harshly criticized the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which is controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
“SDF units are terrorist forces— for the Syrian opposition they are no different from ISIS,” Hariri said. These militias have committed litany of violations and crimes against the Syrian people, including most notably torture, murder, mass forced displacement, and confiscation of property and land," Hariri added.
Hariri concluded his remarks by calling on the international community to support a national free force on Syrian territory which is acceptable to the Syrian people, serves their aspirations, and frees their land.
Any SDF success against ISIS will not achieve stability nor will it pave the way for a sustainable political solution, Hariri said. He underscored that SDF success are unlikely to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people as these militias are serving the interests of the PKK, not those of the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)