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Cablegate: Netherlands: Respecting Human Rights in Syria

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS THE HAGUE 001705

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL NL EU SY PHJM
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS: RESPECTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN SYRIA

REF: STATE 142629

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED; PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: THE DUTCH, AS CURRENT EU PRESIDENT, WILL
CONTINUE TO PURSUE A POLICY OF ENGAGEMENT WITH SYRIA TO
ENCOURAGE IMPROVEMENTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS. THE EU'S
ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT WITH SYRIA HAS BEEN FINALIZED, BUT HAS
NOT BEEN IMPLEMENTED DUE TO SYRIAN OBJECTIONS TO ITS NON-
PROLIFERATION LANGUAGE. THE DUTCH SPECIAL AMBASSADOR FOR
HUMAN RIGHTS IS VISITING SYRIA AS PART OF HIS CURRENT TRIP
THROUGH THE REGION AND WILL SEEK A POSITIVE GESTURE ON HUMAN
RIGHTS FROM DAMASCUS. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) POLCOUNS DELIVERED REFTEL DEMARCHE POINTS ON
RESPECTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN SYRIA TO MICHIEL DEN HOND,
DIRECTOR OF THE DUTCH MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS' OFFICE OF
NORTH AFRICAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN AFFAIRS, ON JUNE 7. IN
DELIVERING THE DEMARCHE, POLCOUNS STRESSED THAT THE DUTCH,
AS CURRENT EU PRESIDENT, HAD A SPECIAL OBLIGATION TO ENSURE
THAT THE EU TREATED RECENT SYRIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES WITH
APPROPRIATE SERIOUSNESS.

2. (SBU) IN RESPONSE, DEN HOND NOTED THAT HUMAN RIGHTS
ISSUES WERE AND WOULD REMAIN AN ISSUE FOR DISCUSSION BETWEEN
THE EU AND SYRIA. ALTHOUGH THE PROPOSED EU-SYRIAN
ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT WAS CURRENTLY STALLED (PRIMARILY
BECAUSE OF SYRIAN OBJECTIONS TO NON-PROLIFERATION LANGUAGE),
DEN HOND ARGUED THAT IMPLEMENTING SUCH AN AGREEMENT WOULD
GIVE THE EU ADDITIONAL MECHANISMS TO INFLUENCE THE SYRIAN
GOVERNMENT POSITIVELY. THE EU'S BASIC POSITION, DEN HOND
STRESSED, IS THAT ENGAGEMENT IS GENERALLY A MORE USEFUL TOOL
THAN ISOLATION IN SUCH CASES.

3. (SBU) DEN HOND SAID THAT THE EU COMMISSION WOULD SHORTLY
BE SENDING A REPRESENTATIVE TO SYRIA FOR DISCUSSIONS ON
MOVING THE ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT FORWARD. IN RESPONSE TO
POLCOUNS' QUESTION, DEN HOND ASSERTED THAT THERE WOULD BE NO
FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS ON THE TEXT OF THE AGREEMENT, NOTING
THAT LANGUAGE ON HUMAN RIGHTS HAD ALREADY BEEN INCLUDED.

4. (SBU) STEPPING OUT OF HIS EU ROLE, DEN HOND REAFFIRMED
THAT THE DUTCH ALSO HAVE A NATIONAL INTEREST IN PROMOTING
HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND ELSEWHERE. HE NOTED
THAT PIET DE KLERK, THE DUTCH MFA'S SPECIAL AMBASSADOR FOR
HUMAN RIGHTS, WAS VISITING SYRIA AS PART OF HIS CURRENT TRIP
THROUGH THE REGION; HE WOULD ALSO VISIT EGYPT, ISRAEL AND
THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES, JORDAN, AND LEBANON. DEN HOND
HOPED THAT THIS VISIT MIGHT ENCOURAGE DAMASCUS TO MAKE SOME
GESTURES IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS AREA, WHICH IN TURN WOULD ALLOW
THE EU TO TAKE A MORE ACTIVE APPROACH TO SYRIA.

SOBEL

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