European imports of Syrian phosphates

Written Questions

This week it was reported that the European imports of phosphates from Syria have tripled between December 2017 and April 2018. Greece was responsible for all of the 16900 metric tonnes imported in April this year (1). 

Phosphate mines in Syria have been resurrected by Russian companies, including OAO Stroytransgaz which is owned by Gennady Timchenko. Both fall under US sanctions after the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea.  

The Greek government supposedly objected to the imposition of an EU import ban on Syrian phosphate in response to the brutalities committed by the Syrian regime.    

1. Can the HR/VP detail whether an import ban on phosphate from Syria has on previous occasions been discussed, in which fora and what were the reasons for it not being imposed?

2. Does the HR/VP agree that the utmost care needs to be taken in resuming economic relations with Syria, in particular with companies (partly) owned by individuals that are part of the Assad regime, closely allied to Putin or featured on EU or US sanctions lists to ensure that no European companies indirectly contribute to the economic enrichment of those responsible for grave human rights violations in Syria?

3. Have any conditions been developed under which economic relations with Syrian companies can and should be resumed or stimulated?