Foreign minister pledges support to Syrian opposition

Villy Søvndal calls the creation of the unified opposition coalition a “positive development”, but Denmark does not go as far as France in recognising it as the official Syrian authority

November 14th, 2012 9:12 pm| by admin

Following yesterday’s meeting in Cairo between Europe’s foreign ministers and Arab League officials, the foreign minister, Villy Søvndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), applauded the creation of a new Syrian opposition coalition and pledged the EU’s support.


“It is a positive development that the Syrian opposition has unified,” Søvndal said after the meeting, according to Ritzau news bureau. “The EU will continue to co-operate with the Arab League to support [the opposition]. It is important that the opposition has unified, so that they can offer a trustworthy alternative to President Bashar al-Assad and his forces.”


The formation of the new Syrian opposition coalition was also praised by Britain, France and Germany, but only France went so far as to acknowledge the newly-formed body as the official authority of Syria. 


“I announce today that France recognises the Syrian National Council as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people and as the future government of a democratic Syria, allowing to bring an end to Bashar al-Assad's regime," France’s president, Francois Hollande, said yesterday in a statement. 


By most media accounts, the ongoing civil war in Syria has claimed well over 30,000 lives. According to the Guardian, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said yesterday that as many as 2.5 million people have been displaced inside the country.  Recent estimates put the number of people who have fled Syria at as many as 400,000. 


Many of those refugees have made their way to Denmark, creating an enormous strain on the county’s asylum system. Unlike neighbouring Sweden, which is granting automatic asylum to Syrian refugees, Denmark is processing Syrian asylum seekers on a case-by-case basis − an approach that has been criticised by politicians and human rights organisations. 


At Tuesday’s Cairo meeting, Søvndal said that co-operation between the EU and the Arab League was vital for helping those affected by the Syrian civil war.


“The whole world must contribute to helping,” he said. “We need to help those who have fled the country, but we also need to put pressure on the forces in Damascus to open up for humanitarian help within the country.”

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