Op 26 april 2018 vond er een debat in de Raad van Europa plaats over welke rol Europa kan spelen met betrekking tot Syrië. De laatste gasaanvallen die plaatsvonden zijn totaal onaanvaardbaar en moeten ten strengste worden veroordeeld. Maar Europa zal niet tot een duurzame oplossing komen door zelf aan te vallen, maar door op te investeren in diplomatie en in dialoog te treden met de Verenigde Naties. Hier kan je mijn tussenkomst lezen, of je kan het ook bekijken op deze video vanaf minuut 45:37.

The recent gas attacks in Douma were absolutely unacceptable. They did not change the situation at all; they have not ended, and will not end, the civil war. On the contrary, they are a horrible violation of international law, and brought a lot of misery. They also brought down the shaky international legal order. In retaliation, the United States of America, France and Great Britain took a very great risk and acted single-handedly. It was dangerous, because there was a high risk of military escalation between two nuclear powers – Russia and the United States – and even a risk of war with Iran. It also undermined the rules-based international order, which is more fragile than ever.

      This risky machist strategy is not the kind of strategy that I would choose as a European citizen and representative. I believe Europe must develop a smarter political strategy to protect the human rights of civilians. Of course, I strongly condemn the repeated use of chemical weapons – not only this time, but on the 85 previous occasions they were used in the Syrian conflict. In the vast majority of those cases, they were used by the Assad regime, as non-governmental organisations have testified. The repeated use of these weapons of mass destruction is totally unacceptable, as is the export of chemical products to make these weapons. The accounts of those responsible for the production and use of toxic gases must be frozen.

      Let us face it: the international community has failed collectively to prevent this latest criminal act in Douma, and more broadly to stop the Syrian tragedy. Stopping the war in Syria is the only effective means of stopping these chemical attacks. Moreover, further non-military coercive measures must not be taboo. Let me give some examples. Inspectors need a comprehensive international mandate to assess and investigate the use of chemical weapons. Economic sanctions against those countries responsible for chemical attacks can be effective. Allies should be accountable and take responsibility for their acts, as should Russia and Iran, which train, equip and assist Assad’s army and air force. Why not revive the idea of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction? Europe must wake up. Our heads of States and governments, particularly Mrs May and Mr Macron, but also Ms Mogherini, must engage actively and develop a common European response. Only diplomacy can make things move in the right direction in a sustainable way.

      We need a political solution. The only way to achieve that is to redouble the efforts to help the United Nations to find a political solution to the conflict. Our only hope of stopping the war in Syria is a smarter European strategy.