Syria – We Don’t Want To Repeat The West’s Failure Over Bosnia

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): We are all caught between horror at what is going on, and Britain’s and the west’s failure over Bosnia and not wishing to repeat that, but the only hope is to redouble the efforts that the Foreign Secretary has indicated he is pursuing with the Russian Government. Their strategic interests through their Mediterranean port in Syria and their other interests in Syria hold the key. Whether we like it or not, we are not going to achieve any progress by on the one hand encouraging the Russians to think that western intervention is yapping at their heels, and on the other hand thinking that just by berating them we are going to get any progress. The truth is that, whether we like it or not, we have to engage them and make them see that their own strategic interests will be advanced by resolving this problem, which probably only they can do.

Mr Hague: That is entirely the case that we are making. Of course we often make some criticism of their position, as they do of ours, in public but we have a good working relationship with the Russian leaders. I have discussed this many times and at great length, as the House can gather, with Sergei Lavrov and will no doubt do so again over the coming days. We will keep making exactly that case because, as we have been discussing over the past few minutes, all the alternatives to bringing about the full implementation of the Annan plan or something very close to it are extremely bloody and have unknowable consequences.