EU unveils ambitious Syria reconstruction plan

EU unveils ambitious Syria reconstruction plan
EU foreign affairs chief says the international bloc is ready to play its role in Syria's reconstruction once "a genuine political transition" from President Bashar al-Assad is underway.
2 min read
15 March, 2017
The European Union has already spent $1.1 billion inside Syria [AFP]

The European Union unveiled an ambitious plan on Tuesday to support the reconstruction of war-torn Syria, calling it a "dividend" to encourage warring parties to reach a peace deal.

EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini also released proposals ranging from demining to organising elections,
ahead of an April 5 Syria conference in Brussels.

"Too many times the international community has not prepared the post-conflict period in time. This time we want to be ready," Mogherini told reporters at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

She added that the international body was "looking beyond the current situation as a dividend for peace that could encourage parties in Syria to make necessary compromises".

Mogherini has pushed the 28-nation EU to play a leading role in post-conflict Syria, in light of the mistakes made in Libya and Iraq, where little support was given by the international community following their wars.

She said the EU was ready to do play its role once a "genuine political transition" from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime was underway.

The April 5 conference would provide the opportunity for the parties to begin coordinating their efforts now, she said.

The EU has already mobilised some 9.4 billion euros, of which nearly a billion ($1.10 billion) had been spent inside Syria on humanitarian missions, Mogherini said.

"The EU could support the drafting of a new constitution and the organization of elections, notably through assistance to election management and an EU electoral observation mission," the EU document detailing the reconstruction plan said.

The EU has consistently backed UN efforts to end the conflict in Syria which has cost some 320,000 lives and displaced millions since 2011 when protests against Assad descended into all-out civil war.

Assad's future is the key question, with the various rebel groups backed by the United States and Turkey demanding that he step down in any settlement while long-time ally Russia has backed him militarily against the rebels.