Some Arab countries looking at EU to 'open doors' for Syria
Last month, the EU's main foreign affairs spokesperson, Peter Stano, stated in early May that the EU would not agree to normalize relations with Damascus.
According to insiders, a coalition of Arab countries is seeking to persuade the European Union to adopt an open-door policy towards Syria following the country's readmission to the Arab League, UAE newspaper Al-Bayan reported on Friday, citing sources.
The attempt was agreed upon during the Arab League meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah in May, according to the newspaper. According to insiders, it would take a step-by-step procedure in which Arab negotiators will meet with a "European group" to negotiate the lifting of sanctions placed on Damascus.
Despite Syria's reinstatement of Arab League membership, the EU's main foreign affairs spokesperson, Peter Stano, stated in early May that the EU would not agree to normalize relations with Damascus. He went on to say that the EU would not help rebuild Syria until its relations with Damascus were normalized.
Brussels has no formal connections with the Syrian government, which it sanctioned heavily following the outbreak of the civil conflict in Syria in 2011. Although the EU temporarily eased sanctions against Damascus in order to allow the delivery of humanitarian relief to Syria following the catastrophic earthquakes in February, the majority of the restrictive measures remain in place. Furthermore, in late April, the bloc placed further restrictions on persons and organizations linked to the Syrian regime.
The Kingdom severed ties with the Syrian government in 2012. However, in April, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on the first such visit since the war broke out.
On the other hand, the United States and Britain said they still opposed relations with the Syrian government but would work with Arab states that are re-establishing relations.
Qatar also opposed Syria rejoining the Arab League and echoed on Sunday Washington's position against normalizing ties with Damascus. But the Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Majed Al-Ansari, said Doha will always support anything that brings about Arab consensus, stressing that the Gulf country will not be an obstacle to that process.