The upcoming international conference in Syria on the return of refugees will have to do without European countries.
The European Union and its member states do not think Syria is safe enough yet, says the EU foreign chief.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is eager to see the Syrians who have fled the civil war in his country in recent years and convenes a conference to make it happen.
Patron Russia, among others, will participate in Damascus from Wednesday. But the European countries, which have welcomed many Syrians, are ignoring the invitation, according to EU foreign coordinator Josep Borrell.
The focus now must be on “creating the conditions for the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of refugees at home and abroad,” said Borrell.
This must be done under international law and under the supervision of the United Nations, which must first be able to do their work in Syria unhindered.
Until then, “the conference is premature”. This is also evident from the fate of the few Syrians who have already returned and been forced to enlist, incarcerated, disappeared, tortured, abused and disadvantaged, says Borrell.