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EU is trying to contain its divisions after Western strikes in Syria

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) –┬áThe strikes by the United States, France and Britain in Syria have not received unanimity within the European Union and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Loudarian will try to contain the divide during a meeting Monday with his counterparts in Luxembourg.

Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the strikes by the United States, Britain and France were “necessary and appropriate,” other members of the European Union have reservations about any move that could lead to further escalation.

While the 28 members of the European Union agreed that the attack on Douma was unacceptable and should not go unpunished, a statement issued by Foreign Minister Federica Mugherini did not mention support for the strikes, saying that “those responsible for this violation of international law will be held accountable” The supposed me.

A European source said the statement was “not surprising.”

But the EU is divided so that France and Britain stand on one side and neutral countries on the other. In the center, members of NATO have adopted different positions from the strikes. “This limited action will not be the beginning of an escalation,” Italy said.

A European source confirmed that “the statement of the 28 states is the most they can say,” while NATO support was more clear.

The disparity between European governments stems from fear of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support for his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

On the eve of the strikes, the Russian president warned of any “reckless and dangerous action in Syria” that could have “unexpected repercussions” during telephone consultations with French President Emmanuel Macaron.

– Seeking a unified position –

“The EU must remain united,” said a European official, who declined to be named.

Moscow was quick to exploit divisions in the European Union, which appeared clear in the reactions to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergey Scrippel and his daughter in Britain.

Everyone has read the same thing, but they have not reacted the same way, “said one European diplomat.

In the end, 19 EU member states expelled Russian diplomats while only five countries recalled their ambassadors for consultations and three others took no action.

After intense pressure from Britain, France and Germany, leaders of the 28-member bloc signed a statement at a summit in Brussels last week accusing Russia of carrying out the operation. But it took a lot of effort to convince the reluctant.

During their monthly meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers will try to agree on the policy to be pursued in Moscow in a bid to reach a settlement of the Syrian dispute.

We have to increase pressure on Russia to force it to change its position, which is the basic condition for settling the issue of the Syrian conflict, “German Foreign Minister Heiko Mas said on Friday.

“We should now hope that Russia has realized that after the military response … we must join forces for a political process in Syria that will allow us to get out of the crisis,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Laudrian on Sunday.

In an interview on Sunday evening, Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to “persuade” the Russians and Turks to sit down at the negotiating table, stressing that he wanted to “talk to everyone.”

Paris hopes Moscow will agree to revive a mechanism for a joint investigation of chemical weapons between the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has not been in place since 2017. The mandate was not extended after Moscow repeatedly vetoed it.