"Syria does not need further bloodshed and Syrian people have suffered enough," the High Representative Federica Mogherini warned speaking about a possible full-scale military operation in the Idlib Province. Syria figured very high on the agenda of the informal meetings of both the EU Ministers of Defence on Thursday and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs on Friday in Vienna.
After years of conflict, a reprisal of military activities in Idlib, the last remaining de-escalation zone, would result in a humanitarian catastrophe.
"We discussed ways in which we can increase even more our humanitarian assistance for Syrians, including inside Syria, while still keeping a very clear position on the fact that European Union money for reconstruction in Syria will only come once the political process will be firmly underway under UN auspices," Mogherini said on Friday, speaking to the press in the Austrian capital.
Mogherini also announced that the European Union will host a ministerial meeting on Syria in New York in the margins of the next UN General Assembly.
"We see the need to prevent and avoid a military action in Idlib that would be a humanitarian catastrophe," the High Representative said. The EU subscribes to the appeal of the UN General Assembly calling on all parties to take all necessary measures to safeguard civilian lives. Mogherini said she was in contact with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi during his visit to Syria.
As regional dynamics are critical to peace, the EU Foreign Ministers also discussed in detail how to address Iran's regional behaviour , including on Syria "where we definitely have serious concerns and profound disagreements with the Iranian approach to the support of the Syrian government", Mogherini said.
At the same time, the EU and Member States continue to work to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.
The High Representative said: "We believe that addressing regional disagreements with Iran can be done in a more effective manner if we maintain the nuclear deal in place. We believe in engagement and we believe that disagreements can be addressed through dialogue and talking politically. So we will look into that work that we are doing to preserve the nuclear agreement as well."
On Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified for the 12th time that Iran is still complying with all its nuclear related commitments.
"Our work continues with all the Member States and with other partners in the world, to make sure that Iranians and Iranian citizens can benefit from the economic relations not only the European Union's Member States, but also others in the world," Mogherini said.