Procedure : 2013/2819(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0428/2013

Texts tabled :


Debates :

Votes :

PV 12/09/2013 - 13.11
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0413/2013

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on the situation in Syria (2013/2819(RSP))

Hannes Swoboda, Véronique De Keyser, Libor Rouček, Pino Arlacchi, Saïd El Khadraoui, Ana Gomes, Roberto Gualtieri, Richard Howitt, Maria Eleni Koppa, María Muñiz De Urquiza, Raimon Obiols, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Joanna Senyszyn, Catherine Trautmann, Boris Zala on behalf of the S&D Group

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Syria (2013/2819(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria, in particular that of 23 May 2013 on the situation of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries(1),

–   having regard to the statement by President Barroso ahead of the G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg of 5 September 2013,

–   having regard to the statements by High Representative Catherine Ashton following the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vilnius of 7 September 2013, on the high urgency of a political solution to the Syrian conflict of 23 August 2013, and on the latest reports of use of chemical weapons in Damascus of 21 August 2013,

–   having regard to Council conclusions and the Council declaration on Syria of 27 May 2013,

–   having regard to the Charter of the United Nations of 1945,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–   having regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the additional protocols thereto,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

–   having regard to the Geneva Protocol (to the Hague Convention) for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare of 1925,

–   having regard to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) of 1993,

–   having regard to the final communiqué of the Action Group for Syria meeting (Geneva communiqué) of 30 June 2012,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas since March 2011 more than 100 000 people have lost their lives in the violent crisis in Syria provoked by the brutal crackdown of the regime against its population; whereas the number of refugees from Syria has risen to over two million, with more than a million children forced to flee their home country; whereas the number of those internally displaced within Syria exceeds 5 million;

B.  whereas on 21 August 2013 the use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area of Damascus killed hundreds of civilians, including many children; whereas this action, if confirmed by UN inspectors, is the largest mass killing with chemical weapons since the attack by the forces of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish town of Halabja and other Kurdish villages in northern Iraq; whereas this attack was followed by heavy shelling by the Syrian army in the same area in the days after the use of chemical weapons;

C. whereas the Government of Syria agreed on 25 August 2013, four days after the chemical attack, that UN inspectors could visit the site; whereas the UN inspection team was shot at multiple times by unidentified snipers on 26 August, which further delayed their investigation; whereas the UN inspectors left Syria on 31 August; whereas UN Secretary‑General Ban Ki-moon urged the inspection team to deliver their findings as soon as possible; whereas, however, the mandate of the UN inspection mission is limited to determining whether or not chemical weapons were used, without addressing the question of who was responsible for this action;

D. whereas on 4 September 2013 the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Senate voted in favour of authorising limited military strikes against the Syrian regime for a period of 60 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension after consultation with Congress, but without the use of American ground troops;

E.  whereas EU Member States expressed diverging positions on a possible international military intervention in Syria; whereas on 29 August 2013 the Parliament of the United Kingdom rejected a government motion on provisional authorisation for military intervention;

F.  whereas the European Union accepted the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as legitimate representatives of the Syrian people and welcomed its statement of 20 April 2013, which declared the principles of a democratic, pluralistic and inclusive Syria respectful of human rights, including the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, and the rule of law, rejected extremism, and committed to guarantee the security of the chemical weapons present in the country, to support international non‑proliferation efforts and to comply with its international obligations on that matter; whereas, however, Syrian opposition groups continue to suffer from significant internal divisions and fragmentation;

G. whereas the violent crisis in Syria is a major threat to stability and security throughout the entire Middle East region and beyond;

H. whereas, in its conclusions of 27 May 2013, the Foreign Affairs Council condemned the atrocities committed by the Syrian regime, which according to the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry amount to crimes against humanity, and also deplored serious abuses, including war crimes, that had been committed by anti-government armed groups and documented in the report of the same Commission, adding that these abuses do not reach the intensity and scale of those committed by the regime forces and affiliated militias; whereas UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the crime against humanity committed in the Ghouta area of Damascus on 21 August;

I.   whereas the Foreign Affairs Council agreed on 27 May 2013 to renew the sanction regime against Syria and took note of the commitment of Member States that any sale, supply, transfer or export of military equipment or of equipment which might be used for internal repression in the country would be for the Syrian National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces and intended for the protection of civilians, with safeguards against the misuse of authorisations granted, in particular concerning the end-user and final destination of the delivery;

J.   whereas the European Union has provided more than EUR 1.3 billion in humanitarian relief for those in Syria and its neighbouring countries who are suffering the consequences of the ongoing violent conflict;

K. whereas the UN Security Council remains the legitimate forum for the settlement of major international conflicts; whereas, however, this forum continues to be paralysed by Russia and China as regards giving an adequate response to the crisis and humanitarian catastrophe in Syria;

L.  whereas on 9 September 2013 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the proposal for the transfer of the chemical weapons of the Syrian regime to the international community for destruction; whereas he also said he was considering urging the Security Council to demand the immediate transfer of these weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed;

1.  Condemns in the strongest terms the mass killing of civilians in the chemical attack of 21 August 2013 in the Ghouta area of Damascus, which resulted in the death of hundreds of civilians, including many children;

2.  Underlines the fact that, while different sources seem to indicate that the Syrian regime is responsible for this attack, any further step should only be taken in the light of the findings of the UN investigation;

3.  Stresses that the proven use of chemical weapons, particularly against civilians, is a flagrant breach of international law, a war crime, and a crime against humanity, which requires a clear and strong response to make clear that such crimes are unacceptable, in order to avoid any further use of chemical weapons in Syria, or elsewhere;

4.  Underlines the fact that, in order to achieve a response with broad international support, the UN Security Council should fulfil its responsibility and formulate a joint position on the crisis in Syria, also to prevent any further use of chemical weapons in the conflict; calls on Russia and China in particular to face their responsibility in this regard in order to ensure international legality; calls, in addition, for coordination with national and supranational partners in the region, particularly the Arab League, to be intensified ahead of further steps;

5.  Supports the proposal to transfer the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons to international control for destruction, and calls in this context on the Syrian Government to hand over all its chemical weapons to the international community and to sign and ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention without delay;

6.  Is convinced that a lasting solution to the current crisis in Syria can only be achieved through a Syrian-led political process with the backing of the international community; continues to support, in this spirit, the efforts of the European Union and its Member States and of UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi to achieve progress in the Geneva II process and in the UN Security Council;

7.  Expresses its concerns at the continuing significant internal divisions in, and fragmentation of, the Syrian opposition and at the rise of religiously and ethnically motivated violence in the country; encourages the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces to play a leading role in creating a more united, inclusive and organised opposition front internally and externally, and calls for further EU support for the Coalition in this context;

8.  Expresses its deep concerns about the involvement of extremist groups and foreign non-state actors in the crisis in Syria and about the possible spill-over of violence in neighbouring countries, which is a major threat to stability and security in the Middle East and beyond;

9.  Stresses that ensuring that humanitarian aid and assistance reach those in need of basic goods and services as a consequence of the violent crisis in Syria – both in the country and in its neighbouring countries, notably Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – must be an immediate priority for the international community and the European Union; calls on all parties involved in the conflict to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid and assistance through all possible channels, including across borders and conflict lines, and to ensure the safety of all medical personnel and humanitarian workers;

10. Calls for a joint European policy, involving both Union and Member State levels, addressing the situation of the more than two million refugees from Syria; underlines the fact that any further escalation or intensification of this violent conflict would increase the number of refugees, as an additional threat to regional stability and security; calls for special attention to the situation of Palestinians living in Syria, who are trapped in violence with no access to Jordan and Lebanon;

11. Reiterates its call for the establishment of safe havens along the Turkish-Syrian border, and possibly within Syria, and for the creation of humanitarian corridors by the international community; calls again on all countries to fulfil the pledges they made at the Kuwait donor conference of 30 January 2013;

12. Stresses that the crisis in Syria requires a coherent common approach by EU Member States; urges High Representative Catherine Ashton, therefore, to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the current state of play, EU humanitarian assistance to those internally displaced within Syria and refugees from Syria, further measures the Union could adopt to support democratic forces in the Syrian opposition, and means of dialogue with key international actors, including Russia and Iran;

13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary‑General of the United Nations, the Congress and President of the United States, the Parliament and Government of the People’s Republic of China, the Parliament and Government of the Russian Federation, the Parliament and Government of Iraq, the Parliament and Government of Jordan, the Parliament and Government of Lebanon, the Parliament and Government of Turkey, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, and the Government and Parliament of Syria.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0223.

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