Mr President, as we speak the Syrian city of Homs is being surrounded by no less than 400 tanks. We have seen this movie before. However, in Hama in 1982 there were no cameras acting as eye witness to the world. Now we know what is happening. Al-Assad has killed and tortured to death 5 000 citizens including children; tens of thousands are imprisoned and, instead of al-Assad meeting the ultimatums of the international community, specifically the Arab League, he has given his own citizens an ultimatum to give up members of the opposition, which remains largely peaceful.
Al-Assad orders to shoot and kill and has confirmed in his interview last week that he, as head of government and commander-in-chief, takes no responsibility at all for what is happening in his country. He has lost his dignity and his legitimacy and I believe that the EU must do everything to prevent the massacre from going on any further. The impunity must end.
We have to act more credibly and forcefully by imposing additional targeted sanctions, specifically on the families supporting this murderous regime and keeping it in power, and by implementing the Council conclusions on Syria of 1 December in which the EU decided to stop the export of technologies used to monitor the Internet, to breach and track people’s communications and information flows and to take them out of their homes based on the signals from their cell phone.
The information war that is going on is real. And as was the case with oil sanctions, the statement in relation to digital arms trade – which we have fought to stop for years – has been made. However, we still have to await its implementation, and this is hurting our credibility.
Speaking of credibility, I think it is disturbing that Cyprus blocked Turkey’s participation in the Foreign Affairs Council on Syria. What will you do to ensure that this does not happen again and that we can work with this vital partner, Turkey, on establishing humanitarian corridors and in collaborating through Turkey with NATO as well? The Syrians need the EU and Turkey to cooperate and I urge you to work on this credibility issue, which is very important.
Let us do justice to the Sakharov prize winners whom we will honour tomorrow, Razan Zaitouneh and Ali Farzat from Syria on behalf of the Arab Spring.