10/23/2009, 00.00
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Signing of the Association Agreement on Human Rights between Syria and Europe delayed

President Assad talks of "technical issues", but diplomatic sources in Brussels say that the origin of the delay is a clause wanted by the EU which gives them the opportunity to suspend deals in cases of proven human rights violations .

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Syria wants to "revise" the association agreement with the European Union. For a "technical issue", according to President Bashar al-Assad; according to diplomatic sources in Brussels over a clause on the observance of human rights that the Europe wants included.  

"I have always supported cooperation with the European Union - the Syrian president said yesterday on state television - it is a priority. But first we must cooperate more effectively with Europe, before signing this Association agreement there is a technical issue".

Rumours in Brussels report the question is quite different. Days ago there was talk of the 26 of this month as the date of the signing of the agreement, then of a referral. At its origin, according to European diplomatic sources, there is a request made by the Dutch in particular and endorsed by the Swedish who hold EU Presidency, to introduce a clause in the treaty that provides for the EU’s right to suspend it in the case of proven rights violations. Over the very same question of respect for human rights, however, a draft agreement between Syria and Europe, drawn up in 2004, was never signed.  

This time, already in the middle of October, the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, had raised the possibility of a postponement, saying that "if the government finish the exam during the Swedish presidency we will sign the agreement, otherwise we will do so with the Spanish" presidency which begins early next year.

Assad's intervention puts an end to the question, for the time being. It should be noted that the Syrian president has referred to what he himself would have said during conversations with Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, on a visit to Damascus (see photo). But in the lavish reports on the Mrs. Halonen’s visit made by the Syrian official news sources - especially dedicated to what was said by Assad – the issue was not discussed. The only reference was contained in the news on the meeting between foreign ministers of both countries, from which we learn that the Finnish Minister Alexander Stubb, "expressed strong support for signing the Association Agreement between Syria and EU." An that was all. (PD)



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