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Foreign minister Urmas Paet: the Syrian civil war cannot be forgotten alongside other crises


The situation in Syria was the topic of discussion at today's meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels. Foreign minister Urmas Paet said that the Syrian civil war and humanitarian disaster cannot be overshadowed by Ukraine and other new conflicts. "It is imperative to continue efforts to end the conflict in Syria and ensure the stability and security situation of neighbouring countries," he added.

According to the foreign minister, it is unfortunate that the Geneva II Conference on Syria did not achieve the expected results or create steps between the parties to bring them closer to a political solution to the conflict. The humanitarian crisis in Syria is expanding, having now claimed more than 140 000 lives and currently more than 9.3 million people are in need of assistance. "The UN Security Council unanimously approved the Syria aid access resolution on February 22 to provide humanitarian aid access to all those in need, which must be quickly and fully implemented," Paet said.

The European Union foreign ministers estimate that the humanitarian situation is most catastrophic in the Damascus, Aleppo and Homs regions. According to UNICEF’s recent report, the crisis has affected more than 5.5 million children. Paet stated that Estonia has helped support the continuing education of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon with 100 000 euros through UNICEF in February and via the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has supported Syrian refugees in Jordan with another 100 000 euros. In December of 2013, Estonia supported the World Health Organization’s initiative to prevent the spread of polio in Syria and the wider region with 100 000 euros.

On the subject of the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria, the European Union's foreign policy leaders are concerned about delays in the process, yet expressed hope that the final deadlines will be respected, according to which the state is required to destroy its chemical weapons stocks by June 30 of this year. Paet said that it is positive that although all of the chemical weapons are not yet destroyed, Syria no longer has the capability to use or construct chemical weapons.

The European Union’s foreign ministers expressed hope that after nearly ten months of stalemate and gridlock, the Lebanon government that was formed on February 15 will be able to manage the difficult security situation in a country with nearly one million refugees and prevent the further spread of conflict.

Speaking on the subject of Iraq, the European Union's foreign policy leaders were worried about the growing violence and deteriorating security situation and underlined the significance of the April 30 general elections for the development of Iraq.

For additional information:
Marika Post
Press Spokesperson
Permanent Representation of Estonia to the EU
+ 32 474 981 657

637 7618


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