Motion for a resolution - B8-0341/2017Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the EU strategy on Syria

15.5.2017 - (2017/2654(RSP))

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 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Barbara Lochbihler, Bodil Valero, Ernest Urtasun, Florent Marcellesi, Jordi Solé, Tamás Meszerics, Claude Turmes on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0331/2017

Procedure : 2017/2654(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the EU strategy on Syria


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria,

–  having regard to the UN human rights conventions to which Syria is a State Party,

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

–  having regard to the Geneva Communiqué of 2012,

–  having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on Syria,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Syria, including those of 3 April 2017 which adopted the EU Strategy on Syria, including the Joint Communication of 14 April 2017 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative (VP/HR) of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission on ‘Elements for an EU Strategy for Syria’,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Syria,

–  having regard to the statement by the co-Chairs of the Brussels Conference on ‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region’ held on 4 and 5 April 2017,

–  having regard to the reports of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, established by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and to the UNHRC resolutions on the Syrian Arab Republic,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the war in Syria has become one of the worst humanitarian crises the world has faced since World War II, and continues to have devastating consequences for Syria’s people; whereas this conflict, supported and exacerbated by external actors, is having an increasingly destabilising impact on the wider region;

B.  whereas over 400 000 people, mostly civilians, have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011; whereas 13.5 million people, or almost three quarters of the remaining population, are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 6 million displaced people and more than 5 million people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas; whereas over 5 million Syrians have had to seek refuge abroad;

C.  whereas under international law, warring parties are obliged to take appropriate measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructures; whereas massive and recurrent violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been committed by all sides and in particular by the Syrian regime and its allies; whereas the UN Commission of Inquiry, the UN Secretary-General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have stated that crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed in Syria;

D.  whereas the violations committed during the Syrian conflict include extrajudicial killings, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, mass and arbitrary arrest, targeted and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, collective punishments, attacks against medical personnel and denial of food and water; whereas the Assad regime is reportedly responsible for hangings, acts of torture and extrajudicial killings on a massive scale in its detention facilities; whereas these crimes have so far gone unpunished; whereas the use of starvation of civilians by besieging populated areas as a tactic of war, pursued by the Assad regime and armed opposition groups, constitutes a clear breach of international humanitarian law;

E.  whereas the risk of regional escalation remains high with continued interference from a number of regional actors, including Turkey, which recently launched a new series of airstrikes against Kurdish fighters;

F.  whereas Assad’s forces have reportedly used chemical agents to harm and kill civilians; whereas the latest case of the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians took place on 4 April 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, where at least 70 civilians, many of them children, were killed and hundreds more injured; whereas on 12 April 2017 Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned the reported use of prohibited chemical weapons in Syria and would have called on the Syrian Government to cooperate with an investigation into the incident;

G.  whereas justice, the rule of law and the fight against impunity constitute essential elements underpinning peace and conflict resolution efforts;

H.  whereas on 4 May 2017 an agreement establishing four de-escalation zones was reached by Russia, Iran and Turkey in Astana (Kazakhstan); whereas the three signatory countries are to act as guarantors of the six-month renewable truce, including through armed monitors on the ground; whereas this deal calls for an end to all flights by the Assad regime over these zones and unhindered humanitarian access to rebel-held zones; whereas a new round of UN-led talks is resuming this week in Geneva and another round of Russian-led talks is planned for mid-July in Kazakhstan;

I.  whereas on 3 April 2017 the Council adopted an EU strategy for Syria, which includes the Joint Communication by the VP/HR and the Commission on ‘Elements for an EU Strategy for Syria’ and related Council conclusions; whereas this strategy outlines six key areas of focus, namely: an end to the war through a genuine political transition; the promotion of a meaningful and inclusive transition; addressing the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable Syrians; promoting democracy and human rights; promoting accountability for war crimes; and supporting the resilience of the Syrian population and society;

J.  whereas on 5 April 2017 the EU co-chaired a conference on ‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region’, which brought together representatives of over 70 countries, as well as of international organisations and of international and Syrian civil society; whereas this conference agreed on a comprehensive approach to the Syrian crisis;

K.  whereas the EU is the biggest humanitarian aid donor in Syria and in the neighbouring countries, with over EUR 9 billion committed since the start of the crisis;

1.  Deplores the lack of progress towards a political solution to the Syrian conflict after six years of horrific violence and human suffering; recalls that there can be no sustainable military solution to the conflict, and calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the lifting of all sieges, full and unhindered country-wide humanitarian access, and the protection of humanitarian aid workers by all parties;

2.  Observes with relief the measurable respite in the fighting in large parts of the country since the cessation of hostilities brokered by Russia and Turkey in December 2016; welcomes with cautious optimism the recent agreement in Astana on the establishment of de-escalation zones; calls on the three Astana guarantors to ensure that the ceasefire is respected; calls for a Chapter VII-based UN mandate which should trigger the deployment of a very robust UN Blue Helmets mission in order to monitor the situation in and around the so-called de-escalation zones;

3.  Expresses the hope that the Russian-led diplomatic initiatives may serve to strengthen international efforts towards reaching a political solution; reaffirms in this context the continued primacy of the UN-led Geneva process, and supports the efforts of the UN Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, for a genuine political transition in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254, negotiated by the parties to the conflict and with the support of key international and regional actors; insists on the importance of including all ethnic and religious minorities in the talks on Syria’s future and governance structure;

4.  Condemns, once again and in the strongest terms, the atrocities and widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the forces of the Assad regime with the support of its allies, as well as by non-state armed groups, in particular ISIS/Da’esh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham;

5.  Condemns the horrific chemical attack in Khan Sheikhun in southern Idlib on 4 April 2017, the most recent of several chemical attacks that have been carried out during the Syrian conflict; welcomes the investigation of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and insists on the need to hold the perpetrators to account;

6.  Welcomes the adoption of the EU Strategy for Syria, which provides a solid and comprehensive basis for enhanced EU action in both conflict and post-conflict phases;

7.  Stresses, however, that the EU Strategy for Syria should not prevent the EU from pursuing in the short to medium term a pragmatic and flexible approach which allows it to maintain a diplomatic role and leverage in order to help shape the ultimate outcome of the political talks;

8.  Fully supports the VP/HR’s outreach to regional and local actors in the conflict and the attempts to find common ground for peace in order to open discussions on the future of Syria;

9.  Welcomes the emphasis put on supporting the resilience of the Syrian population and Syrian society in the EU Strategy for Syria; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to redouble their efforts aimed at building the capacities of the people and civil society of Syria, including with and through actors that promote human rights, equality (including gender equality and minority rights), democracy and empowerment, where possible in liberated territories in Syria as well as for Syrian refugees living in exile in the region or in Europe; stresses that such capacity-building should support Syrians in steering the transition (in areas such as media regulation, decentralisation, administration of municipalities and constitution drafting), while paying due consideration to women’s needs and role;

10.  Welcomes the conclusions of the Brussels Conference on ‘Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region’ held on 4 and 5 April 2017; stresses that humanitarian needs will remain critical for years to come, and urges the EU and its Member States to guarantee their long-term commitment to meet the humanitarian and reconstruction needs of Syria;

11.  Welcomes the EU’s commitment to ongoing humanitarian aid to Syria’s neighbours which are hosting millions of refugees; calls, however, on the Member States to show a much stronger commitment to responsibility-sharing, allowing refugees fleeing the Syrian war zones to find protection beyond the immediate neighbouring region, through resettlement, humanitarian admission schemes, simplified family reunification or more flexible visa regulations;

12.  Welcomes the promotion of accountability for war crimes as a key area of the EU Strategy for Syria; insists, however, that more action be taken in this area, including through the adoption of an EU common policy on a coordinated accountability strategy towards the war crimes committed in Syria, and calls on the VP/HR to take a proactive role in this matter;

13.  Reiterates its call on the EU and its Member States to explore, in close coordination with like-minded countries, the creation of a Syria war crimes tribunal, pending a successful referral to the International Criminal Court; urges Member States to take all necessary measures to hold alleged perpetrators to account, notably through the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction and by investigating and prosecuting EU nationals responsible for atrocity crimes in Syria;

14.  Calls on the Member States and their allies, notably the US, to ensure transparency, accountability and full compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law in relation to their participation in international coalition efforts, as well as in their military cooperation with parties in the conflict;

15.  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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria, the members of the International Syria Support Group and the parties involved in the conflict in Syria.