Verhofstadt slams “EU indecision” on Syria

The former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt (Flemish liberal) has called for the European Union to impose sanctions on Syria. Mr Verhofstadt is currently the leader of the liberal group in the European Parliament. The Flemish liberal suggests a boycott of Syrian oil would be a good start.

The Syrian regime has been brutally supressing an uprising in the country for several months now.

The army has been used against the opposition and at least 2,000 people have been killed and many more arrested and tortured.

The Syrian government’s action has received widespread condemnation from world leaders such as the US President Barack Obama and the Saudi King Abdullah.

The EU is currently working on a revised stance on Syria.

Mr Verhofstadt believes that the reaction of the international community in general and the EU in particular to violence against civilians by the Syrian police, army and security services has been too soft.

"The EU should enforce stricter sanctions.”

“There are currently the names of 35 big wigs that have been put on list (banning them from travelling to the EU) and that’s about it.”

The former Belgian PM also criticises the indecisiveness of the EU’s foreign policy representative Baroness Ashton of Upholland (photo).

“She suggests something and then waits for an answer from each of the 27 Foreign Ministers.”

Mr Verhofstadt proposes freezing the assets of the 200 or so families in Syria that form the backbone of the Baath party in the country. He also believes that an EU boycott of Syrian oil would be an effective way of hitting the Assad government where it hurts most.

There is little or no enthusiasm within the international community for taking military action against Syria.

However, Mr Verhofstadt told journalists that “If the regime itself uses war ships against its own people, we should consider whether an international force shouldn’t take control of a certain area, such as the border with Turkey.”

Syria has sent soldiers to the border to prevent people from fleeing the violence in the country.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister in Belgium’s caretaker government Steven Vanackere has said that he supports sanctions against Syria.