The FINANCIAL — Syria and the European Union on December 14 initalled a cooperation agreement in Damascus, four years after completion of a deal which EU member states failed to sign for political reasons.
Tayssir Raddaui, head of the Syrian state planning board and Hugo Mingarelli, deputy head of the European Commission for foreign affairs, initialled the document in front of media.
Full signature of the agreement is expected during the first half of 2009, according to a statement.
Syria is one of the last Mediterranean countries not to have signed such an association agreement, which brings financial benefits conditional on certain economic reforms.
Last month the commission promised to offer Syria a new deal "very soon" to reward the country for having established diplomatic relations with Lebanon and starting indirect peace talks with Israel.
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's external affairs commissioner, said then that her office was finalising changes to the draft agreement with Syria to adapt it to recent developments.
She welcomed "recent positive developments in Syrian regional policy."
The EU froze relations with Damascus after the assassination in February 2005 of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri, an attack widely blamed on Syria though it denies blame.