Time for the EU to Wake Up: Humanitarian Drama in Idlib Must Be Ended

(Deutsche Version hier)

Yesterday, 5 March 2020, Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan agreed on a cease-fire for the province of Idlib in Northern Syria, which came into force at midnight.

Sergey Lagodinsky, the Chair of the Turkey delegation of the European Parliament and spokesperson on Russia of the Greens/EFA group, comments:

„Yesterday’s negotiated cease-fire in Idlib offers at least a chance to alleviate humanitarian suffering. It is high time for the EU to wake up and use this opportunity. The EU must also try to finally take an active role in the solution of the Syrian conflict. A European commitment to effective and safe access for humanitarian organisations in the region, but also to humanitarian corridors for the civilian population, is the minimum humanitarian requirement of the hour. The EU and the Member States must now use all their influence on Russia and do everything possible to end the humanitarian drama in Idlib. After all, it is President Putin and President Assad supported by Russia who bear the main responsibility for this suffering.

Russia’s generals, as well as those involved in and responsible for the murderous Wagner mercenary force, including Yevgeny Prigozhin, must be held responsible for their war crimes in Syria. Only recently, a UN report confirmed deliberate bombings of hospitals, schools and market places. Those responsible on the Russian side have to be added to the EU sanctions list.

Despite the Moscow deal, it is hopefully also clear to President Erdogan that he has lost at this geopolitical gambling and is now waking up in a dead end. President Putin is not a fair, well-meaning partner, not even for Turkey, which until recently was manoeuvred more and more into a Russian dependency by President Erdogan.

Turkey’s future is European, but this requires hard and intensive work. On the Turkish side, particularly in the areas of the rule of law and human rights. President Erdogan must finally accept this. Attempts to blackmail the EU at the expense of asylum-seekers in Turkey are distracting tactics and do not help to build mutual trust.

Background: Report by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=25638&LangID=E

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