Paet denies blocking Syria sanctions

  • 2011-05-06
  • TBT Staff

The foreign minister denied that the March kidnapping had influenced Estonia's stance toward Syrian sanctions. (photo: foreign minstry of Estonia)

TALLINN -- Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet has denied recent allegations that the ongoing hostage situation in Lebanon has led the country to block proposed EU sanctions against Syria.

"Estonia is not blocking the European Union in imposing sanctions on Syria. We support the consensus decision over mandating sanctions," the Foreign Minister said in a statement.

"Estonia, and I presume all EU nations, wish to make a thought-out decision in order for the sanctions to actually help achieve their goal. And the goal is to end violence in Syria," he said.

The comments come in response to an article in the EUobserver that quoted unnamed sources as saying that Estonia was blocking sanctions on Syria in fears that the sanctions would exacerbate an ongoing hostage situation in neighboring Lebanon.

"The case of seven Estonian cyclists kidnapped in Lebanon is a hidden reason for Estonia's reluctance to back EU sanctions on Syrian officials," the article said.

The article also quoted Estonian foreign ministry spokeswoman Minna-Liina Lind, however, as saying that the kidnapping and the sanctions against Syria "should not be linked."

Seven cyclists were kidnapped by masked gunmen on March 23 near Zahle, Lebanon's third largest city, shortly after crossing over the border from Syria.