Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Syria: a good European neighbour?

Britain wants to bring the country in from the cold. The EU's European Neighbourhood Policy first needs an overhaul

Chris Phillips, Tuesday 25 August 2009

"As Syria's international rehabilitation continues, Britain has called for "a new beginning" with the previously isolated Ba'athist regime. This would include bringing Syria into the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The move is part of a wider western strategy to tempt Syria away from Iran and continue its co-operation in Iraq and Lebanon, but are we witnessing another example of human rights and democracy being sacrificed for political expediency?.......

A Syrian-EU treaty would therefore be consistent with the ENP's past subordination of its founding principles to the political priorities of the day. European attempts to woo Syria from Iran and minimise its influence in Lebanon are the primary motives for this treaty, not promoting good governance, human rights or democracy. Rather than making Syria an example of how the EU can promote its lofty principles, leaders should take this opportunity to reflect on the failings of the ENP in its current guise. Despite being the major trade partner with Middle Eastern states, the EU has been unable to promote the kind of domestic liberal political reforms so swiftly adopted in eastern Europe after 1989. It's time to work out a better way to turn that economic clout into leverage."

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