23:49 GMT03 August 2020
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    A group of French lawmakers has called on country’s President Emmanuel Macron to resume the work of the French consular division in Damascus among other measures aimed at softening sanctions against Syria, a letter to Macron seen by Sputnik said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The French Embassy in Damascus, which was providing consular services, and two consulates in Aleppo and Latakia were closed in March 2012, about a year after the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

    "Analysis of specific fates and a lot of evidence show how the absence of the consulate service in Syria complicates and makes dangerous and very expensive any procedure, such as, for example, obtaining a visa for travel to France. In order to obtain the visa, one needs to repeatedly address one of the consulates in neighboring countries, and such trips are very dangerous. While waiting for conditions needed to restore diplomatic relations with Syria, can't we at least consider the possibility of reopening the consular section in Damascus?" the letter signed by Jean-Pierre Vial, a member of the Senate of France representing the Savoie department and the head of the French-Syrian Friendship group in the Senate, as well as three other heads of interparliamentary groups said.

    The lawmakers also called on the president to review the sanctions regime, in particular the embargo, which "negatively affects civilian population, complicating access to main goods and services, blocking the import of medical supplies and equipment."

    "If the complete lifting of sanctions, righteous in regards to strategic equipment, is impossible, cannot we review their parameters?" the French parliamentarians asked in their letter.

    Apart from that, the lawmakers suggested that France should contribute to setting up safe zones in Syria for refugees to be able to return to the country.

    "Now that creation of de-escalation zones is being discussed, wouldn't safety of separate territories become the first step on the way to ease the situation of the refugees and displaced persons?" the letter said.

    The letter, written and sent on June 8, was signed by Bernard Caseau, Christiane Kammermann and Bariza Khiari, the heads of the groups for interparliamentary dialogue with Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, respectively.

    As of today, the list of those under EU sanctions against Syria includes 240 people and 67 entities, with the restrictive measures encompassing an oil embargo, assets freeze, restriction of certain investments and import of certain equipment and technologies.


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