BRUSSELS (EJP)---European Union leaders condemned once again the brutal violence in Syria and called for "strong actions" to press the regime in Damascus to end the bloodshed and to support a political solution to the crisis.
After a summit meeting in Brussels, the 27 EU heads of state or government issued a statement in which they "condemned the brutal violence and massacres of civilians" and urged the Syrian regime "to stop immediately its attacks against the civilian population."
They called for an international, transparent, independent and prompt investigation into violations of international law and human rights "with a view to ensuring accountability for those responsible."
The EU leaders encouraged the various Syrian opposition groups "to agree on a set of shared principles for working towards an inclusive, orderly and peaceful transition in Syria to a future free of Assad and his brutal regime."
They reiterated their full support to Special Envoy Kofi Annan's six-point plan and "welcomed his efforts to work with key international partners to move the political process forward."
Calling for a united action by the UN Security Council to add "more robust and effective pressure," including the adoption of comprehensive sanctions under Chapter VII, the EU leaders welcomed the adoption of additional restrictive measures by EU Foreign Ministers earlier this week and "agreed to keep further measures under consideration."
Last Monday, the EU extended its sanctions against the Syrian regime by adding six more entities and another person to its Syria blacklist, bringing the total of people subject to sanctions to 129. Forty-nine entities face an EU asset freeze.
On Iran's nuclear programme, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the EU urged Teheran "to engage constructively" and welcomed the entry into force of the EU embargo on Iranian oil on July 1.
|Chapter VII of UN charter
|EU leaders called on the UN Security Council to adopt a strong resolution to add sanctions against the Syrian regime under Chapter VII of its charter. While member states reiterated their will to find a peaceful solution to the problem, Chapter VII would allow the use of both non-military and military sanctions.
The European Council stressed its serious concerns about the nature of Iran's nuclear programme and the urgent need for Iran to comply with all its international obligations, including full implementation by Iran of United Nations Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors resolutions," the EU statement said.
"The European Council fully endorses the High Representative (Catherine Ashton) and the E3+3 efforts in that regard. In light of the recent talks between the E3+3 and Iran in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow, the Council urges Iran to decide whether it is willing to commit to a serious negotiation process aimed at restoring the confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme."
It added: "ran has to engage constructively by focussing on reaching an agreement on concrete confidence-building steps and addressing the concerns of the international community."