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

Mr President, it has been six weeks since the gruesome videos of the Hula massacre found their way to the Internet. Murdered children were considered a ‘tipping-point’ by many but, just like the words ‘never again’, this phrase sounds terribly hollow. Even as the Assad regime continues its all-out war against the Syrian population, numerous brave Syrians are still willing to pay the highest price when protesting peacefully for freedom and respect for their rights and dignity. Defected military personnel speak of the ‘blessing’ of dying through government forced lethal injection in preference to bleeding to death after torture. We must tell, but more importantly show, the Syrian population we will not forget them. What does responsibility to protect even mean at this point? Sadly solutions in Syria are not easy. The new action group for Syria identified steps to ensure full implementation of Kofi Annan’s six-point plan and the Security Council resolution must come forward as soon as possible. But let us not be distracted. And in that respect I welcome the restraint in Turkey’s response – despite the clear provocation by Syria in shooting down the fighter jet and killing the air force pilots. My thoughts go out to the families of these two pilots that lost their lives. We welcome the participation of China and Russia in the action group but regret the cynical choice, thus far, of putting interests before the lives of people. Yet we have to acknowledge that Russia must be a part of the solution to the crisis, however hard that may be. In the EU, and especially during the Cyprus Presidency, we also bear huge responsibility, and should lead an open and transparent investigation into how a Russian ship carrying weapons could reach Syrian shores after docking in a Cyprus port and being identified by the Cyprus authorities. This Parliament has urged Catherine Ashton to start a full investigation but so far no real assurances have been given. When unenforced, EU sanctions are merely a paper reality and that does nothing to help the Syrian people.