SNC gets Tunis-like recognition from EU summit
BRUSSELSThe European Union recognized the Syrian National Council as a “legitimate representative of Syrians” at a summit in Brussels yesterday, while a Red Cross aid convoy prepared to enter the shattered Bab Amr district of the restive Syrian city of Homs.
“The European Union supports the Syrian opposition in its struggle for freedom, dignity and democracy, recognizes the SNC as a legitimate representative of Syrians and calls upon all members of the Syrian opposition to unite in its peaceful struggle,” a sentence added to the draft conclusions overnight said, Bloomberg reported yesterday. Western and Arab nations also recognized the SNC as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people during Feb. 24’s “Friends of Syria” meeting in Tunis. Individual members of the EU, including the U.K., have already recognized the council. The EU also committed itself yesterday to document war crimes in Syria, in order to set the stage for a “day of reckoning” for the country’s leadership, in the way that former Yugoslav leaders were tried for war crimes in the 1990s by a special U.N. tribunal. “We will make sure that there is a day of reckoning for those who are responsible,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron. The EU leaders said they were “appalled by the situation in Syria.”
France shuts its embassy
French President Nicolas Sarkozy used the summit to announce that his country was closing its embassy in Syria, a day after two French journalists escaped to Lebanon after being trapped for days in the besieged Syrian city of Homs. Britain and the U.S. have also closed their embassies in Damascus.
Meanwhile, two journalists evacuated from Syria’s battered city of Homs headed home yesterday. A plane transporting reporter Edith Bouvier and photographer William Daniels had left Beirut for Paris, the French embassy in the Lebanese capital said. In Russia, however, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the West of fueling the conflict by backing the opposition. “Do they want al-Assad to pull out his forces so the opposition moves right in?” Putin said. “Is that a balanced approach?” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said yesterday that Russia would not provide any kind of military assistance to Syria in such a situation.
Red Cross reaches Homs
In other developments, a Red Cross convoy carrying life-saving aid has reached the Syrian city of Homs and was about to enter the shattered district of Bab Amr yesterday.
“We are in Homs, preparing to enter Bab Amr,” ICRC chief spokeswoman Carla Haddad said in Geneva. In Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu rejected accusations that Turkey had become a tool of U.S. policies in the Middle East and insisted that Ankara could not stay impartial in the face of the Syrian turmoil, sources said. “We don’t receive orders from anybody. We are going our way and taking our decisions independently. We are doing what is in favor of Turkey; this is sometimes with the U.S., sometimes with Iran,” Davutoğlu reportedly said at the March 1 meeting. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers have criticized the Turkish government’s support to armed groups in the Syrian opposition.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.