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, after so many debates on Syria, I already know what we are going to be hearing from you: it is a terrible tragedy; human rights have to be respected; Assad has lost his legitimacy; the EU has imposed sanctions and provided humanitarian aid in cooperation with our partners, etc. etc. But this means nothing any more for the Syrian people who are being slaughtered every day, caught between a murderous regime and foreign fighters ranging from Hizbollah to al-Qaida. I do not think Assad is losing sleep over EU sanctions. The options are not easy, but doing nothing is no longer one of them. Let us at least enforce our own embargoes effectively. You will understand the shock I experienced at reading the Council conclusions on 23 July, one year and two months after EU sanctions and an arms embargo were imposed. I quote: ‘EU countries will be obliged to inspect vessels and aircraft heading to Syria if they suspect they contain weapons or equipment for internal repression’. Is this what we are coming up with as a result of a Council, one year and two months after the imposition of an EU arms embargo? I do not think this does any justice to the EU as a global player. Words are no longer enough for the Syrian people. Question by Rui Tavares Answer to Rui Tavares Marietje Schaake (ALDE), Blue-card answer – Indeed, the role of Cyprus is very important here. There have been ships which have docked in Cyprus that have later continued on with weapons on board to Syria. That is a disgrace. I am surprised, and confused, about what a weapons embargo even means if this can continue to happen. If we are not capable of at least enforcing our own actions and words, such as on a weapons embargo and the export of repressive technologies, then we are losing our credibility. I appreciate the complexity of the international reality around Syria but I do think that doing nothing – the way we have for the past year and a half – is no longer an option.