Faced with Challenging Developments in Iran and Syria: State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner attends Council meeting in Brussels

November 14, 2011

At today's Council meeting, the Foreign Ministers discussed the situation in Iran and Syria.

The report of the IAEA on Iran clearly showed that the international community must urgently follow up on the Iranian nuclear programme. "Iran must fulfil its international obligations", Austrian State Secretary Waldner said referring to the 6 UN resolutions and 10 IAEA resolutions ignored by Iran.

The Council made its position very plain in the wording of the conclusions from the meeting and expressed increasing concern about the Iranian nuclear programme: "The signal is clear. The EU is determined to act. The fact that additional, harsher sanctions are aimed for should be seen as an unambiguous message by Iran", the State Secretary said and added: "Sanctions must always be appropriate and targeted, however, and thus addressed to the regime and not to the people."

Syria was also on the Council agenda. The Syrian regime is not prepared to stop violence against its people and refuses to implement the reforms as promised.

"The dilemma has arisen that Syria lacks a united opposition that could serve as an alternative to the regime", State Secretary Waldner said. Despite several attempts in Syria and abroad, the opposition has not yet managed to define a shared goal and to bundle their efforts.

Assad is now increasingly isolated in the Arab world. Despite this, pressure on the Assad regime must be increased: "We must support the Arab League, not least to ensure the Arab "ownership" of this issue", the State Secretary said.

The foreign ministers of the EU decided to tighten sanctions against Syria and appealed to the UN Security Council to live up to its responsibility in this case.