26 January 2012
Question for written answer
to the Commission (Vice-President/High Representative)
Marietje Schaake (ALDE) , Edward McMillan-Scott (ALDE) and Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck (ALDE)
Subject: VP/HR — Russian ship carrying arms for Syrian regime reaching Syria through Cyprus
On 12 January 2012 it was reported that a Russian ship, the ‘Chariot’, allegedly carrying arms and/or munitions destined for the government of President Bashar Al-Assad, had reached Syria after having been inspected in Cypriot waters off Limassol(1). The ship, destined for the Syrian port city of Latakia, was reportedly prevented by Cypriot customs from continuing its journey because of its suspected cargo(2). Although Cypriot custom officials were unable to open four containers on the ship, it was concluded they contained ‘dangerous cargo’ — i.e. arms and munitions. The Cypriot Foreign Ministry confirmed that the ship was allowed to continue its journey after the crew of the ship and its Russian owners ‘provided assurances’ that it would not head for Syria. The ship is believed to have set off from St Petersburg in early December 2011.
1. Was the Vice-President/High Representative notified by the Cypriot (customs) authorities of the arrival of the ship in Cypriot waters? If so, can the HR/VP comment on what instructions or advice were communicated to the Cypriot authorities?
2. Can the Vice-President/High Representative confirm that the Cypriot authorities acted in compliance with EU legislation currently in force, in particular the restrictive measures against Syria, as laid down in Article 2 of Council Regulation (EU) No 442/2011?
3. Is the Vice-President/High Representative willing to conduct an urgent investigation into this matter, in particular regarding the conduct of the Cypriot authorities, with the aim of deciding whether punitive measures are appropriate? If not, why not?
4. Has the Vice-President/High Representative been in contact with the Russian authorities to express her deep concern about this incident and to urge them not to support the Al‑Assad regime in its brutal crackdown on its citizens? If not, why not?
5. Does the Vice-President/High Representative agree that this incident seriously undermines the EU’s capabilities and effectiveness in implementing and enforcing its own legislation?
(1) http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/turkey-says-russian-ship-allegedly-carrying-munitions-reached-syria-after-leaving cyprus/2012/01/12/gIQAhZ3HtP_story.html