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Serbian mufti taps into ethnic tension with Belgrade

SANDZAK, Serbia — The rising tensions between ethnic communities in the Balkans have accompanied Serbia’s bid for EU membership.

Trust erodes in the European Union

MADRID — Spain's success as an EU member had a downside.

EU urged to ban Syrian oil imports

Rights groups are pushing the EU to stop paying for Syrian oil, money they say goes to fund the regime’s brutal crackdown.
Syria oil sanctionsEnlarge
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could face economic woes if the EU santions oil imports from Syria (HASSAN AMMAR/Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

International human rights organizations Human Rights Watch (HRW)  and Avaaz have launched a campaign to pressure the EU to ban imports of Syrian oil, the sake of which they say directly funds the regime’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protestors.

HRW sent a letter to the EU High Representative and foreign ministers of the 27 member states on August 13 urging the EU to freeze the assets of the Syrian National Oil Company, Syrian National Gas Company and the Central Bank of Syria “until the Syrian government ends gross human rights abuses against its citizens”.

While most of Syria’s oil production is used for its own consumption, 95 percent of oil exported goes to Europe, mainly Germany, Holland, France and Italy, all of whom have denounced the violence in Syria, but have yet to leverage their trade with Syria in order to end the crackdown.

HRW said local human rights activists reported at least 231 anti-government protesters and other civilians have been killed in August so far. The confirmed death toll of civilians is now over 2,000, while several hundred members of the security forces have also been killed since the uprising began six months ago.

“Syria’s authorities are still killing their own people despite multiple efforts by other countries, including former allies, to make them stop,” Lotte Leicht, EU director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement Tuesday “It’s time to show the government that Europeans won’t help to fund its repression.”


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