Tannock: Russia can be key to ending Syria conflict

17-Jan-2013 @ 8:0

Charles Tannock Charles Tannock

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Moscow must now offer action to solve the Syria crisis, not simply words, a senior Conservative MEP told the European Parliament.

London MEP Charles Tannock told an emergency debate in Strasbourg that no resolution to the conflict would be acceptable which left President Assad in office - and Russia could hold the key to resolving the crisis.

Mr Tannock, Conservative foreign affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, told MEPs: "It is hard to believe that the Syrian conflict has now been dragging on for two years, with so many lives lost and so little achieved in terms of bringing peace to a once-stable Middle East country. Only yesterday, a reported 87 people were killed in an attack on Aleppo's university campus, with each side blaming the other.

"But this does reinforce a crucial point about this war - namely, that both sides have been accused of atrocities, and we must be extremely cautious in our unqualified endorsements of the opposition forces, particularly the extremist jihadi ones.

"One thing, however, is certain: the necessity for the utterly-discredited and morally-bankrupt President Assad to leave office. He has dropped bombs which is a war crime on his own civilians and been responsible for the deaths of an estimated 60,000 people.

"We now hear rumours that Hezbollah is mobilising fighters to defend the Government, while Assad is planning a retreat to an Alawite enclave for a final stand. Any resolution that allowed him to remain in office would, however, be totally unacceptable.

"We in the EU and international community must therefore maintain all the pressure we can to expedite a solution to this horrendous conflict. We would certainly be helped in this regard by China and Russia, whose continuing appeasement of the regime in Damascus, and blocking of UN resolutions, serves to blight their own international standing, and abuses their UN Security Council privilege.

"UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi recently said that Russia appears as determined as the US to end this conflict, but we need Moscow to offer action - not simply words.

"For the time being, all we can hope for is the success of the peace plan and a transitional government. We owe it to the Syrian people particularly minorities such as the Christians, caught between warring factions, to help them to realise their desire for lives free of political tyranny and military onslaught."

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