BERLIN, August 8, 2011 – A leading member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party Monday called for a global boycott of Syrian oil and gas exports to pressure Damascus into renouncing violence against demonstrators.
“We only have economic sanctions left as a means to convince (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad that he must stop the violence and resign,” Ruprecht Polenz, chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign relations, told public broadcaster Deutschlandradio.
Human rights organisations say the regime has killed more than 1,600 civilians and arrested 12,000 people since anti-government protests broke out in March.
Speaking of a possible boycott of Syrian oil and gas exports, Polenz warned that such a measure should be agreed by the international community as a whole if it were to work.
“Before one takes such a step one must be pretty sure that such relatively rare resources do not find buyers elsewhere, energy-hungry China being one such potential candidate,” he said.
Syria produces some 380,000 barrels of oil a day, much of which is exported to Europe, including Germany.
On Friday, US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Merkel pledged “additional measures” against the Syrian regime in addition to sanctions already agreed by the European Union on freezing assets and denying visas to leading members of Syria’s regime.
Polenz also suggested that EU members join Italy in recalling their ambassadors from Syria “as a political signal that we cannot continue to communicate with Assad and his regime at the ambassador level”.
Italy early this month announced the recall of its ambassador for consultation and suggested that “all ambassadors from countries within the European Union be recalled”.
Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador from Damascus for consultations, King Abdullah said Sunday, in a statement calling on Syria’s leaders to “stop the killing machine”.