Speaking at a Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul on Sunday, Foreign Secretary William Hague described the situation in Syria as “dire” and said that pressure should be put on the Assad regime to implement the Six-Point Peace Plan drawn up by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Kofi Annan’s Peace Plan had been accepted by Assad and it received the backing of the United Nations but the battle for Syria goes on, and there is no sign of Assad’s regime laying down its arms despite condemnation from world leaders or the tough sanctions which have been imposed.
Outlining the current objectives, William Hague stated that they wanted the withdrawal of Syrian troops back to their barracks, the release of political prisoners, a political transaction led by Syrians, and the establishment of a democratic government including free and fair elections.
During the meeting William Hague called on countries to contribute to the UN’s Commission of Inquiry if they have evidence of human rights abuses inflicted by the regime and announced Britain would be working alongside its ally the United States to set up a Syria Accountability Centre; the centre will work to support those documenting the atrocities which continue in Syria.
William Hague also called on opposition groups in Syria to “develop a vision that will reassure all Syria’s communities, and encourage the diversity of opinion and affiliation that is the essence of democracy.” and urged them to put disagreements aside for the sake of Syria’s future. The Foreign Secretary also described last week’s opposition meeting as “a step in the right direction”.
Hague went on to say that Britain had recently agreed to double the assistance it was providing to the Syrian opposition and added that Britain would also be increasing the assistance that is given to human rights organisations and civil society groups.
Speaking at the meeting William Hague said:
“So we must send an unequivocal message to Damascus today that we will not accept the status quo in Syria. There is an opportunity to change what is happening in the country if the Annan plan is implemented in full. But we will not be party to attempts by Bashar Al Assad and those closest to him to cling to power, steeped as they are in the blood of nearly 10,000 Syrians. There is no way back for Assad and those around him.”
“To Bashar Al Assad we must say: you may think you can cling to power or shore up your rule through yet more murder, torture and the incarceration of your opponents. But you have forfeited all right to lead in the eyes of the world and of most Syrians. We will not turn a blind eye to what you have done to them. Until you accept a transition that reflects the will of the Syrian people the diplomatic and economic stranglehold will tighten. We will increase sanctions and pressure for as long as it takes.”