Minister says EU is preparing for chemical incident in Syria

European Union Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton recently told the European Parliament that the EU is preparing preventative measures in case of a potential chemical weapons incident involving Syria.

Creighton made her remarks on behalf of European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President Catherine Ashton. She said the EU is currently focusing more on the possibility of a chemical incident with regards to Syria's neighbors Turkey and Jordan.

Creighton did not elaborate on what preventative measures the EU is considering, but said their efforts include preparations for what Syria will need after any transition. The EU, according to Creighton, is addressing the challenges faced by the Syrian population across a broad spectrum.

Creighton said she is referring specifically to a possible chemical incident, the consolidation of disparate opposition forces and the need to provide aid to hundreds of thousands of refugees facing an extraordinarily harsh winter.

The EU has almost doubled the financial aid it has pledged towards solving the conflict and alleviating its burdens on the region. Creighton said the EU is spending more than $700 million on conflict-related problems. More than half of the money is in humanitarian aid.

"We are working tirelessly every day to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people," Creighton said. "But we all agree that such a tragedy cannot go on without more action and initiatives. I know that some of you are of the opinion that today more direct military assistance to the opposition should be envisaged. But such an option is still very divisive and runs the risk of hardening the conflict.

"This is why in spite of all the difficulties, the doubts on the short comings, we must remain determined to keep the course, by supporting Mr. Brahimi's efforts, assisting the opposition and by relentlessly calling for the Syrian leadership to face up to reality in the country and at last putting an end to all violence."