EU unveils Syria reconstruction plan

Federica Mogherini in the European Parliament. Strasbourg, 14 March. [European Parliament]

The EU unveiled an ambitious plan Tuesday (14 March) to support the reconstruction of war-torn Syria, calling it a “dividend” to encourage warring parties to reach a peace deal.

Ahead of an April 5 Syria conference in Brussels, European Union foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini released proposals ranging from demining to organising elections.

“Too many times the international community has not prepared the post-conflict period in time. This time we want to be ready,” Mogherini told reporters at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Mogherini said the EU was “looking beyond the current situation as a dividend for peace that could encourage parties in Syria to make necessary compromises”.

Tusk: EU powerless to stop Aleppo carnage

A downbeat Donald Tusk last night (15 December) admitted that the European Union was powerless to stop Russian-backed bloodshed in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

The EU’s foreign policy chief has pushed the 28-nation EU to play a leading role in post-conflict Syria so as to avoid the mistakes made in Libya and Iraq when the international community effectively left them to their own devices with disastrous results.

Mogherini said that the EU was ready to do its bit once a “genuine political transition” from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule was underway.

The 5 April conference would provide the opportunity for the parties to begin coordinating their efforts now, she said.

Mogherini highlighted the importance of getting regional players onside — especially Saudi Arabia, opposed to Assad, and Iran which backs the president and rejects demands for him to step down.

An accompanying document issued by the European Commission said among steps Brussels could take would be to mobilise funding to support reconstruction efforts, including helping with security, demining and monitoring of the ceasefire.

EU Syria aid manager: ‘We started two years too late’

The manager of the EU’s Trust Fund for Syria, Nadim Karkutli, told EURACTIV in an exclusive interview at this year’s AidEx conference that the fund – helping the five million refugees in neighbouring countries – probably should have started in 2012.

Mogherini said the EU had already mobilised some €9.4 billion, of which nearly a billion had been spent inside Syria on humanitarian missions.

The EU could also help restore basic services – water, health and education – to show that peace was providing real benefits, the document said.

“The EU could support the drafting of a new constitution and the organisation of elections, notably through assistance to election management and an EU electoral observation mission,” the document added.

The Union has consistently backed UN efforts to end the conflict in Syria which has cost some 320,000 lives and displaced millions since 2011 when protests against Assad descended into all-out civil war.

Assad’s future is the key question, with the various rebel groups backed by the United States and Turkey demanding that he step down in any settlement while long-time ally Russia has backed him militarily against the rebels.

Syrian refugees must be part of the solution

The horrors of Aleppo continue to shock the world and the war has displaced millions. Syrian activist Mohammed Alsaud calls on the EU to involve the Syrian diaspora and the refugees themselves in efforts to tackle the issues at stake.

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