This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Plenary speech on the situation in Syria

Madam President, it is easy to condemn the brutal murder, torture and rape of unarmed citizens and children in Syria, but it is far more difficult to find effective solutions: the EU needs a strategy, and while no one is suggesting it is easy, and the future is indeed uncertain, we cannot and will not stand by and watch Syrian citizens being slaughtered. Tanks and fighter jets have been deployed; water, energy, food and medicine supplies have been cut off; a humanitarian crisis is looming. This is a man-made disaster for which Bashar al-Assad is responsible and we must make him stop. Mr Verhofstadt has mentioned our group priorities and I want to emphasise some additional important and concrete steps that the EU can take to step up its own efforts, irrespective of how China and Russia seek to obstruct any UN measures. Let it not be EU Member States who fail to enforce the arms embargo and sanctions. How did a ship with Russian arms leave Cypriot waters to reach Syria? Let it not be European technology companies that export systems used for mass surveillance, censorship tracking and tracing of dissidents. Let it not be the same oil that fuels our cars to drive to the grocery store fuelling the tanks roaming the streets of Homs. Can the Council and Commission guarantee that EU sanctions and embargos are enforced? Aside from a government-led war on Syrian citizens an information war is raging. Foreign journalists are expelled and brave citizen journalists risk their lives to share videos of their freedom cheers that are met with slaughter. We do not have a way of establishing the precise scope of the man-made disaster in Syria, but 7 000 deaths and tens of thousands being detained in inhumane circumstances, as well as accounts of rape and hunger, tell us enough. These are people like you and me. In an increasingly globalised and connected world, with half of the citizens in the Middle East being under 26 years of age, we must remain conscious of who the future generation will remember as defending their freedoms and rights as though they were their own.