EU Imposes Sanctions on Syrian Central Bank

Foreign ministers of the 27 EU countries increased sanctions imposed on Syria’s regime on Monday to stop its crackdown on opponents, freezing the assets of several Syrian government officials and imposing sanctions on the country’s central bank, Associated Press reported.

They also banned the purchase of gold, precious metals and diamonds from the country, and banned Syrian cargo flights from the European Union.

The EU had previously imposed several rounds of sanctions on Syria, freezing the assets of 100 people and 38 organizations, and trying to cut the country’s supply of equipment for its oil and gas sectors.

So far the EU sanctions have had little effect on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Activist groups estimate nearly 7,500 people have died in 11 months of unrest.

As he left the meeting, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said he thought the imposition of new sanctions would be effective as part of a broader effort to put pressure on the Assad regime.

“It will not be enough, of course, but it is a new step,” he said.

The foreign ministers had recognized the Syrian National Council, one of two main opposition groups, as one legitimate party to talk with, he added. But he acknowledged there were other elements opposed to Assad’s rule and said it was important to push the opposition to become more organized.

Juppe said, too, that humanitarian access to those in need in Syria was “an absolute priority.”

The names of the Syrian officials sanctioned Monday will be made public Tuesday in the EU’s official journal. The new sanctions were adopted Monday morning by the foreign ministers of the 27 EU countries, meeting in Brussels, said Maja Kocijancic, an EU spokeswoman.

Amwal Al Ghad