Hague accuses Russia and China of 'siding with brutal regime' in Syria

Foreign secretary says countries' decision to veto UN resolution calling on Bashar al-Assad's regime to stop violence is 'deeply mistaken'

The foreign secretary, William Hague, has accused Russia and China of "siding with a brutal regime" by vetoing a UN security council resolution calling on Syria to stop violence towards its own people.

Hague used his keynote speech at the Conservative party conference to describe the decision as "deeply mistaken and regrettable".

He spoke out against the veto as he hailed the British government's role in the Arab spring and called on governments in the Middle East and beyond to respond to public grievances with "dialogue and reform, not with repression".

Focusing on the repression by President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, he said: "Last night we and our European allies tabled a resolution in the UN security council calling on the Assad regime to stop the violence in Syria after months of utterly unacceptable killings, torture and abuses.

"The decision of Russia and China to veto this resolution, and to side with the brutal regime rather than with the people of Syria is deeply mistaken and regrettable.

"We will redouble our efforts to work with other nations to increase the pressure on the regime wherever we can, and assure the people of Syria that they will not be forgotten."

Hague outlined Britain's foreign policy under the coalition, which he said was built on giving the country the leadership it needs to "thrive as a confident, outward-looking, prosperous, bold nation".

He praised David Cameron for showing the "steel and humanity" needed to support the people of Libya.

"When the hour of crisis came, our prime minister had the steel and the humanity to call for a no-fly zone when others doubted," he said.

"Backed by the very best of British diplomacy, we secured what many said was impossible: an unequivocal UN security council resolution authorising military force, strong regional support from Arab nations and a military operation that was limited, legal, morally right and successful."

He said "a new, bold and ambitious relationship" needed to be fostered with the countries of the Middle East and north Africa, in the EU, the UN and the G8 "so that, as they grow in freedom, they can join us in prosperity".

As efforts to resolve the eurozone crisis continued, Hague told Conservative delegates the party had been right to warn that entering the euro would be a disaster and say that no more areas of power should be handed over to Europe.

"Thanks to the European Union Act 2011, by law that cannot happen without a referendum," he said. "And we are just as right that the EU has no more power in our national life than it should, and I believe as strongly as I ever have that when the right moments come this party should set out to reduce it."

Hague, a former hardline Eurosceptic, told the conference he had said 14 years ago that the eurozone would become a "burning building with no exits".

But he said it was important to support the eurozone countries because they are "friends and neighbours", but also because Britain's prosperity and financial stability was tied to theirs.

"But we will never make the mistake of thinking that anyone else can be relied upon to stand up for the interests of Britain," he added.

"We will continue to work closely with our European allies and in particular, in our defence treaties with France, we have forged the closest relationship with our neighbour since the second world war."

But he added that Britain's defence would continue to be "anchored in our unbreakable alliance with the United States and the primacy of Nato", saying: "That is why when others proposed an EU military headquarters this summer, on behalf of the United Kingdom I vetoed it."

"

On Afghanistan, Hague said the government would do all it could to promote reconciliation and governance in Afghanistan as Afghans increasingly take responsibility for their own security, with British forces preparing to wind down their role by 2014.

Contributor

Hélène Mulholland, political reporter

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
China urges Syria regime to deliver on promised reforms
Beijing move seen as sign of waning patience over ongoing violence and follows Russia's call for Assad to reform or quit

Martin Chulov

11, Oct, 2011 @6:38 PM

Article image
Russia refuses more Syria sanctions

Western nations seek to increase pressure on Assad regime as UN says casualties have reached at least 2,600

Ian Black

12, Sep, 2011 @7:44 PM

Article image
Syria resolution backed by Clinton and Hague at UN security council - video

The foreign secretary and the US secretary of state backed the Arab League in a draft resolution proposal at the UN security council meeting

01, Feb, 2012 @11:44 AM

Article image
US hits out at Russia and China after UN security council veto on Syria - video

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, attacks China and Russia's veto of a resolution threatening sanctions against the Syrian regime

05, Oct, 2011 @7:46 AM

Article image
David Cameron accused Ed Miliband of 'siding with Russia' over Syria
Labour sources reveal PM had acrimonious phone call with opposition leader a day before crucial failed vote on intervention

Rowena Mason, political correspondent

30, Aug, 2013 @3:22 PM

Article image
William Hague urges Russia to put pressure on Syria – video

The foreign secretary, William Hague, pushes his Russian counterpart, Sergai Lavrov, to take action against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad

28, May, 2012 @11:20 AM

Article image
Syria's murderous regime is doomed, says defiant William Hague
UK foreign secretary warns President Assad he risks all-out civil war if he remains in power, despite collapse of UN resolution

Rajeev Syal, staff and agencies

05, Feb, 2012 @12:30 PM

Article image
Syria rejects Arab League call for peacekeeping mission
Bashar al-Assad's government reportedly describes proposal to curb unrest as a 'flagrant interference' in Syrian affairs

Ian Black, Middle East editor

13, Feb, 2012 @2:23 PM

Article image
UN security council: Hague condemns violence in Syria – video

The foreign secretary, William Hague, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, address the UN security council

13, Mar, 2012 @10:45 AM

Article image
Syria resolution vetoed by Russia and China at United Nations
• Thirteen other council members vote in favour
• UK and US react with fury to decision
• Homs death toll more than 200, say activists

Paul Harris in New York, Martin Chulov, David Batty and Damien Pearse

04, Feb, 2012 @10:28 PM