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Syria Sceptical About Agreement with EU - Website

Damascus has reservations about its proposed association agreement with the European Union, the pro-government website Syria Steps said in an October 17 article.

The website said that Syria is worried that the partnership agreement would infringe the country’s political and economic sovereignty.

News agencies had quoted sources as saying the agreement was due to be signed on October 26 but the Kuwait News Agency has since reported a Brussels EU source as saying Syria was not ready to sign.

The Syrian website said that Damascus wanted to look carefully at the agreement to make sure that Europeans would not interfere in its economic decisions in the future, adding that the Syrians were advised by Algeria to be “careful” about the phrasing of the accord.

It added that Syrian officials were divided about the signing of the agreement, with some government members saying that the Syrian economy was capable of handling free trade with the EU while others were more cautious and argued that the private sector in Syria was not yet ready for it.

Some media reports said that Damascus was worried about some sections regarding human rights in the country.

The EU and Syria first agreed on a draft pact in 2004 but the ratification of the final agreement was delayed for political reasons and with some EU nations, the Netherlands in particular, demanding a clause allowing for its suspension in the event of rights abuses.