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EU-Arab League ministers announce Cairo Declaration

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Ministers welcome the formation of Syrian opposition coalition

From right to left, Pierre Vimont, Executive Secretary General of the European External Action Service, EU Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour and Arab League general secretary Nabil al-Arabi, attend the ministerial meeting of Arab League and European Union at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

The ministerial meeting of Arab League and European Union at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

Foreign ministers participating in the EU-Arab League ministerial meetings put together the Cairo Declaration on Tuesday. The declaration is a result of a conference held in at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo. In the declaration the ministers welcomed the formation of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces

The declaration covers a variety of issues that the EU-Arab League ministers agreed to “tackle the common political and economic challenges.” Among these challenges are the situation in Syria and the establishment of a “crisis room” to be based in the Arab League headquarters.

The declaration “welcomed the formation of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces” and called on other opposition groups to join the coalition.

The coalition has been seeking recognition since its formation on Sunday. The six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council recognised the coalition as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people on Monday.

On Tuesday the French president, François Hollande announced “France recognises the Syrian National Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people and as the future government of a democratic Syria,” making France the first western country to do so.

In an interview with Reuters, the president of the opposition coalition Ahmed Moaz Al-Khatib made a request for European countries to recognise the coalition as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. He stressed the importance of political recognition adding “this will make the coalition act as a government and hence acquire weapons and this will solve our problems.”

The declaration also confirmed support for the efforts of Lakhdar Brahimi the joint United Nations-Arab League special envoy to Syria. Brahimi’s plan is for a diplomatic solution to the conflict and he hopes to propose another resolution to the United Nations security council.

Hollande also announced in the press conference that he will consider the possibility of providing arms for the coalition. British Foreign secretary William Hague announced during his speech at the meeting on Tuesday that Britain will be “increasing [its] support to Syrian opposition groups.”

In the past Brahimi has stressed that there is “there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria,” and that need for a diplomatic solution in accordance with the Geneva communiqué agreed upon at the end of June. Britain and France are both party to the Cairo declaration, however their individual announcements imply that they doubt the success of this plan.

Hague referred to Russia and China using their vetoes to block past security council resolutions on Syria and he believes “there is no indication that the outcome now would be different.”

The declaration also announced the creation of a crisis room to be based in the Arab League headquarters. The room was inaugurated by Arab League Secretary General Nabil El Araby and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton.

It is hoped that the room will help to “boost cooperation between the two sides on an institutional level,” and coordinate with the already existing Situation Room in the EU. The purpose of the room is to provide the Arab League with “an early warning and response system for political crises and social, economic, environmental and natural disasters and their repercussions on the Arab region through the rapid provision of information and analysis in support of decision-makers at the league and the member states.”

About the author

Joel Gulhane

News Reporter

Joel Gulhane is a journalist with an interest in Egyptian and regional politics. Follow him on Twitter @jgulhane


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