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Gravely concerned over EU’s Syria decision- SA
May 31, 2013, 10:00 am


The situation in Syria lends itself to one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent times, says South Africa [AP Images]

In a stinging criticism of the recent EU decision to lift the arms embargo to Syria, South Africa has said that the solution to the on-going conflict must be Syrian-led.

The South African department of international relations and cooperation (DIRC) released a statement on Syria on Thursday.

“South Africa is gravely concerned that the increased supply of weapons to the parties has entrenched the false notion that a military solution is possible, when in fact there is no military solution to this crisis.

“If this continues, then it is ultimately the people of Syria who will pay the price, whilst those supplying weapons live in safety far away from the crisis,” said the DIRC.

Moscow has also denounced the EU move to arm Syrian rebels as illegitimate and violating international law.

“Discussing at an official level whether or not to supply arms to non-state subjects is in conflict with all norms of international law, including the principles of non-interference in states’ internal affairs, not to mention military intervention,” Russian foreign minister Lavrov said.

The European Union has lifted the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition, but extended the sanctions against the Syrian government after June 1, a decision applauded by the US.

The Syrian political transition should be based on the Geneva Communique, stressed South Africa.

“While recognising that the Government of Syria has the greater responsibility for the protection of civilians and that it should stop the use of indiscriminate force against its people, it is important for the international community to respond to the atrocities committed by rebel and sectarian groups as well,” the DIRC said.

The situation in Syria lends itself to one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent times with severe consequences for the entire region, the DIRC said.

“South Africa conveys its deepest sympathy to the Syrian people, in particular, innocent families who have been on the receiving end of the on-going violence and some of whom had to flee to neighbouring countries as refugees.”

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