| 19.08,11. 03:52 AM |
EU, France, Britain, Germany Urge Assad to Resign
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday jointly urged Syria's embattled leader Bashar al-Assad to step down.
"We call on him to face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people and to step aside in the best interests of Syria and the unity of its people," they said in a joint statement.
The leaders of the European Union's three biggest powers issued their strongly worded statement to coincide with similar calls from U.S. President Barack Obama and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
They backed plans for stronger European sanctions against Assad and his Damascus regime, which they said continue to "violently repress their people and flatly refuse to fulfill their legitimate aspirations.
"France, Germany and the United Kingdom reiterate their utter condemnation of this bloody repression of peaceful and courageous demonstrators and the massive violations of human rights," they wrote.
"We are actively supporting further strong EU sanctions against the regime of President Assad," they added.
"We urge the Syrian regime to stop all violence immediately, to release all prisoners of conscience and to allow free access to the United Nations for an independent assessment of the situation," they said.
"Our countries believe President Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people and who is responsible for the situation, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer claim to lead the country."
"Violence in Syria must stop now. Like other Arab peoples during recent months, the Syrians demand that their rights to liberty, dignity and to choose freely their leaders be recognized," the warned.
"We will continue to work with the Syrian people, countries in the region and our international partners, with a central role for the United Nations, to support their demands and achieve a peaceful and democratic transition."
For its part, the European Union called for Assad to step down, saying that his regime had lost all legitimacy and credibility, and warning of further sanctions.
"The EU notes the complete loss of Bashar al-Assad's legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the necessity for him to step aside," foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement, shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama also demanded that Assad quit.
"The EU condemns in the strongest terms the brutal campaign Bashar al-Assad and his regime are waging against their own people," the statement said.
"In recent weeks the Syrian leadership has stepped up its violent crackdown against peaceful protesters and resorted to large-scale use of military force (which) has led to the killing or injury of many Syrian citizens."
Singling out attacks in Hama, Deir Ezzor, Latakia and on the Palestinian refugee camp of Ramal, the EU said, "These developments are unacceptable and intolerable."
The Syrian leadership had defied international calls to stop the violence, free detained protesters, allow access by international humanitarian and human rights organizations and media, and engage in a genuine and inclusive national dialogue, the statement added.
Assad's "promises of reform have lost all credibility as reforms cannot succeed under permanent repression. The EU notes the complete loss of Bashar al-Assad's legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the necessity for him to step aside," it said.
Outlining future action, the statement said, "the addition of further names to the list of those targeted by the EU restrictive measures is under preparation.
"Moreover, the EU is moving ahead with discussing further restrictive measures that will broaden its sanctions against the Syrian regime. By these efforts we continue to aim at assisting the Syrian people to achieve their legitimate aspirations."