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

Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group – Mr President, it is regrettable we could not have this debate on the terrible situation in Syria with the High Representative herself when she finally did decide to fulfil her duties and appear before this Parliament yesterday after a delay of two months. But more important is the EU’s impact in the world under her leadership. The High Representative is in Kosovo today, a country that reminds us of how long the damage of conflict can last. In the civil war in former Yugoslavia too, it took Europe too long to act. And history seems to repeat itself and it embarrasses us. For two years now, the situation in Syria has been dragging on without decisive action by the international community, including the EU. It is a disgrace in light of the tens of thousands of people that have been killed. On top of the man-made disaster, which has also caused millions to leave the country or left them internally displaced, winter has come and a humanitarian crisis can turn into a weapon of war in the hands of Assad if we do not intervene. Recently, Brahimi for the UN, Burns for the United States and Bogdanov for Russia came together to discuss the situation in Syria once more. The main point is that the results of the talks were none, as has been the result with most talks including Russia over Syria. What was striking was the absence of the EU. Where were we, Commissioner, Minister Creighton? Let us at least take the initiative now for a UN Security Council resolution that will ensure that aid can reach people. This would be non-controversial, at least in comparison to the discussions around a political discussion, and could push aid through the criminal obstructions preventing the people from accessing basics such as food and medicine. Another question is, why is Sweden the only EU Member State not in favour of referring Assad to the ICC? What is the reason for a lack of unity among our Member States? We must save the Syrians who are crushed, freezing and starving between a murderous regime and increasingly radicalised armed opposition. Our priorities should be to stop the killing and the humanitarian disaster and we are a very long way from acting accordingly.