Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Syria: reform not repression needed

11th May 2011

The Syrian regime must respond to the recent wave of protests with democratic reform, not repression and human rights violations, Charles Tannock MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists group foreign affairs spokesman, said today.

Speaking in a debate with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the Syrian demonstrations, Dr Tannock welcomed the EU's action to date in launching an arms embargo, taking the offer of an Association Agreement off the table, and reviewing all EU cooperation with Syria. He said that it was the responsibility of both the External Action Service and all EU foreign ministries to press the Syrian government to end the army's hostility towards its own people and to stop attacks on social networking sites that are being used to organise demonstrations. He also questioned the Baroness on why President Assad himself has not been added to the travel ban list.

He said:

"The Syrian government's actions in oppressing and even killing its own people have rightly been condemned by the international community but we must now turn these words into appropriate actions. So far we have made a strong start by isolating Syria in the international community.

"President Assad now needs to be given an ultimatum. He has talked about reform but so far not set out how he intends to deliver it. He should choose the path of reform or the Western World - starting with the EU - should regard him as a pariah leader and respond with forceful economic sanctions.

"President Assad has the option of being remembered as a leader who reformed Syria or as a tyrant who oppressed his own people. The ink in the history books is drying fast and he needs to act now if he wants to rewrite his own obituary."