BRUSSELS

The European Union will not end sanctions against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime until a political transition starts with the involvement of all sides, the EU foreign policy chief said Tuesday. 

Speaking at a debate of the European Parliament dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Syrian war, Josep Borrell pointed out that the bloc would not provide any kind of legitimization for the Assad regime.

“There will be no end to sanctions, no normalizations, no support for reconstruction until a political transition is underway,” the top EU diplomat said.

According to Borrell, it would be the “biggest mistake” to lift sanctions and accept Assad’s call to contribute to the country’s reconstruction because it would confirm the Syrian was right “by crushing the people, by crushing opposition and pursuing a war until the country — the whole country — gets on its knees.”

The bloc can only accept a political process in line with the decision of the UN Security Council, which implies a negotiated new constitution, free and fair elections and the release of political prisoners, he said.

In this case, the EU is “ready to provide very substantial support” for the reconstruction of the country, he added.

The EU has provided in total €22 billion ($26 billion) in aid in the past 10 years, according Borrell.

“These people deserve our continued support,” he said, confirming that the bloc would go on helping Syrian refugees and the host countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

On March 29-30, the bloc will host the donor conference “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” for the fifth time.

Syria has been in a civil war since early 2011 since the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed and more than 10 million others displaced in the past 10 years, according to UN officials.

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