European Union officials have confirmed their intention to extend sanctions against the Syrian government, despite the COVID-19 outbreak across the world.
A high-ranking European official told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday that extending the sanctions against the Syrian government “will send a strong message that the current approach, which includes violence, the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the use of chemical weapons, is totally unacceptable,” the TASS News Agency reported.
The official, whose identity was not revealed, again called for a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
Another official from the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Authority said, “The sanctions will be extended soon.”
Indeed in an EU announcement the sanctions were extended later on Thursday:
The Council today extended EU restrictive measures against the Syrian regime for one additional year, until 1 June 2021. In line with the EU strategy on Syria, the EU decided to maintain its restrictive measures against the Syrian regime and its supporters, as the repression of the civilian population continues.
During the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly, the Syrian Minister of Health, Nizar Yazigi, announced that “harsh and unjust” U.S. and European sanctions hinder efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus in Syria.
NEW - the #EU extended its sanctions against #Syria's #Assad regime for another year -- to June 2021.— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) May 28, 2020
In sum, #EU sanctions are on 273 persons & 70 entities.https://t.co/JuNKC5PPj7 pic.twitter.com/FB0rY2RejM
The Syrian Foreign Ministry demanded in April that the West lift all sanctions against the backdrop of the danger of the spread of the new virus in the country.
"In the past six months, 1.4m more Syrians lost sure access to adequate food—bringing the total number of 'food insecure' people in Syria to 9.3m, more than half the whole population... more and more families are cutting down to two meals a day." https://t.co/mPTR4U03sI— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) May 26, 2020
European sanctions have been imposed on Damascus since 2011; these include the ban on exporting oil from Syria and the export of energy and oil products to it, in addition to restrictions imposed on investments, the freezing of assets of the Syrian Central Bank and the ban on trade with the Syrian authorities with dual-use technologies and means to monitor and prevent telephone and Internet connections.
The European Union also included 255 people and 67 Syrian entities on its blacklist.