EU Calls Creation of Syria Opposition 'Positive Step Forward'

EU foreign ministers welcome moves by political opposition in Syria to establish united platform, call on international community to also welcome these efforts.

The European Union on Monday welcomed the creation of an opposition council in Syria as a "positive step forward."

A statement agreed upon by EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg welcomed the moves by the political opposition in Syria to establish a united platform and called on the international community to also welcome these efforts.

"In this regard, the EU notes the creation of the Syrian National Council as a positive step forward," the statement said, also hailing its commitment to non-violence and democratic values.

The EU's welcome came at the heels of the council’s announcement on Monday that it has agreed on a democratic framework for a future Syria and wants international observers to be allowed into the country.

Ghied Al Hashmy, a political scientist who participated in a conference of Syrian opposition members in Sweden, said the group welcomes "international observers who have the freedom to travel in the country and observe the situation" in Syria, where clashes continued during the weekend.

"There was nearly a consensus in the conference to not like military intervention but we would gladly see political or diplomatic intervention," Al Hashmy said. "We also don't like general economic sanctions against the country, but directed economic sanctions against certain people."

The council also agreed that President Bashar Assad's regime should be overthrown and that Syria's minorities be given legal protection, said Jens Orback from the Olof Palme International Center, which hosted the weekend meetings in Stockholm.

The Syrian National Council, announced last week in Turkey, is a broad-based group that includes most major opposition factions.

Syria reform talks - AP - 10.7.11