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Written Answers - Foreign Conflicts

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 114.  Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  further to Parliamentary Question No. 74 of 21 February 2012 if he will confirm that he will oppose any UN resolution which enables an attack on Syria. [16427/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Ireland and its EU partners condemn unreservedly the violent assault by the Syrian government on the people of Syria. We are determined to assist the latter to chart a new way forward. We fully support the work of UN-Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan and his six-point plan which was presented to President Assad on 10 March. I welcome the fact that this plan has now been fully endorsed by all members of the Security Council including Russia and China in a Presidential Statement on 21 March, and I urge President Assad to accept and fully support the implementation of this plan without any further delay. I have made it clear that Ireland shares the majority view amongst the international community that, despite the gravity of the situation, outside military intervention will not bring about an end to the violence in Syria and instead runs the risk of precipitating all-out civil war in that country. For the moment, all efforts must be concentrated on support for the work of Special Envoy Annan and increasing diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime to halt its appalling campaign of violence.

There is no serious proposal at UN or EU level for a no-fly zone over Syria at present and it is very unlikely that one will emerge given that there is considerable resistance, not least within the ranks of the Syrian opposition and within the region, to any idea of outside intervention in Syria. Any no-fly zone in any case could only be authorised or properly mandated through a UN Security Council Resolution and there is no prospect of this at present, given clear Russian and Chinese opposition to such a step or any idea of external intervention in Syria. Any proposal to establish a no-fly zone would also have to be endorsed by the Arab League and by Turkey.

[740]The focus of this Government and of the international community has been on increasing diplomatic and political pressure on the Assad regime to halt its violence and repression. In this regard, I fully support the Foreign Affairs Council’s decision on 23 March to apply further EU sanctions against additional individuals and entities that support the Syrian regime. We will continue to take all possible measures to increase pressure on President Assad and his supporters until the violence against the civilian population stops, international humanitarian access is secured, and an inclusive Syrian-led political dialogue begins.

 115.  Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  further to Parliamentary Question No. 74 of 21 February 2012 regarding events in Syria and Iran and noting the 27 February 2012 statement by the Brazilian Foreign Minister that any attack by Israel or the US on Iran would be contrary to international law, and noting that the when Israel unilaterally bombed the Osirik nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, that the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the attack, if he will make a public statement declaring that any attack on Iran by the US or Israel is a war crime under the UN Charter. [16428/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore While the issues relating to Iran’s nuclear programme raised in the 8 November 2011 IAEA reports, and in repeated UN Security Council and IAEA Resolutions, are very serious and must be comprehensively addressed by Iran, it is clear that any form of military intervention or military action against Iran would have extremely grave and unpredictable consequences for the entire region. Despite recent media speculation about military options, both the US and Israel have stated that they fully support the dual track approach, namely sanctions and negotiations. In this regard, the EU agreed extensive additional measures against Iran in December 2011 and January of this year, including a phased oil import ban. These measures complement tough bilateral sanctions implemented by US, Canada and the UK, including significant US legislation targeting the Iranian financial system signed into law by President Obama on 31 December.

It is my belief that these measures have been instrumental in triggering a belated acceptance of talks by Iran. Arrangements are now being made for resumed talks between the E3 + 3 (France, Germany, UK, US, Russia, China) and Iran to commence next month. Hopefully the talks will comprehensively address all the issues arising in relation to Iran’s nuclear programme. The negotiation track must now be given time to succeed. In this regard I would urge the Iranian side to enter negotiations this time in a genuine spirit of compromise and cooperation.

Ireland has been consistent in supporting the dual track approach. We will continue to argue strongly at EU and UN level that the serious issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear activities can only be addressed and resolved through negotiations and not by any other means.


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