From the beginning the crisis in Syria has been extremely complex and full of dilemmas for the international community, in particular the European countries and the European Union. The Syrian refugee crisis reminds the EU and its Member States how close Syria actually is and how many Syrians expect Europe to play a role, if not in finding a political solution then at least in guaranteeing their security. The rise of ISIS last year and the Russian involvement in Syria in the last months, not only added further to the complexity, but also to the urgency for the EU and its Member States to act.
One key question for the role of the international community and in particular Europe is how to deal with the regime of President Assad. While the EU earlier recognised the Syrian Opposition Coalition as legitimate representative of the Syrian people, and several European governments expressed that ‘Assad should go’, some other Member States maintained diplomatic relations with the Assad regime. With the war against ISIS, in which almost all EU Member States are involved, and the Russian intervention in Syria, the debate on Assad’s future is changing. More and more European governments and international actors have expressed the necessity of cooperation with the Assad regime in order to fight ISIS and ensure a transition to a post-conflict scenario. At the same time the Russian airstrikes are strengthening Assad’s hold on the country at the expense of moderate rebel groups. Against this backdrop, Europe needs a joint approach on Syria and a more strategic debate on potential Syrian partners for a solution of the conflict.
PAX and the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung have been directly involved with Syrian activists and civil opposition since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in 2011. We realise how the question on the future of Assad also divides opposition and civil society. This panel debate is meant to look at different options for a political strategy with or without Assad, and the consequences for EU policies.
Moderator Annette Riedel, Deutschlandradio, Brussels
When: Tuesday, 17th November 2015 at 13.00 (Light lunch 12:00 - 12:30)
This debate is held under Chatham House Rule.
Conference language English – no translation.