European Union efforts to impose an oil embargo on Syria suffered a setback on Tuesday when Italy broke ranks and insisted the sanctions be delayed until the end of November, when existing supply contracts will have expired.
The Italian objections angered several other member states, including the UK. But European diplomats insisted the issue could be resolved on Wednesday, when EU officials are scheduled to meet again on the issue…
European leaders had hoped to finalise the oil embargo by Friday, when EU foreign ministers are gathering for a high-profile meeting in Poland, and some diplomats worried that the Italian move would now make that impossible. “They [the Italians] simply couldn’t agree on the date that these existing contracts should phase out,” said a European official.
Other diplomats noted the timing of the sanctions was the only issue in dispute, making a quick resolution possible. “The question is only about when this is going to start,” said one. “There is a good chance we get an agreement by the end of the week.”
However, the move angered countries that were backing a quick move towards sanctions, which argued a delay in implementing them could blunt their effectiveness.
Let’s be clear here: Assad’s security forces have killed more than two thousand protestors in the past six months. A significant portion of the money used to pay those security forces comes from oil revenues. And Rome wants to keep the money flowing for three more months. Here’s their spin:
A spokesman for Italy’s foreign ministry said Rome still supported oil sanctions but that it was important to delay their start “to protect European industry”.
“We have been among the most vocal in criticising the regime, and were the first to recall our ambassador,” said the spokesman, Maurizio Massari. “The debate is on the application of this principle: we have asked that these sanctions could start, in effect, from November 30 in order to safeguard the existing … supply contracts.”
Come si dice “shut up and put your money where your mouth is” in italiano?
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