Hague: 'We are facing momentous change in Arab world'

June 14, 2011 14:24

In video blog, British Foreign Minister William Hague discusses the Arab Spring and its European implications; supports NATO troops.

2 minute read.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

British Foreign Minister William Hague released a video blog Tuesday in which he discusses the Arab Spring, its implications for Europe, and the reasoning behind Britain's decision to take military action in Libya.

"We are dealing with momentous change in the Arab World," Hague says in the seven-minute clip. "[The Arab Spring] is, I have argued, the main event so far of the 21st century. It's more important than the 2008 financial crisis in its implications, it's more important than 9/11 in its long-term consequences. And we will see it go on for many years."

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Hague emphasizes that he and his counterparts view the popular uprisings across the Middle East as a major opportunity, one which has the potential of spurring positive change but also which must  be handled with care.

If countries that were previously dictatorships manage to overthrow their leaders and implement functioning democratic governments, he says, "Then it will be a great advance of human affairs, and of global policy. It will be a huge advance for these countries to have the economic freedom, the political freedom, and the ability to work more closely with nations like ours that the people of these countries are so often seeking."

As far as British troops participating in the US/NATO siege of Libya, Hague is confident that his country has done the right thing. "It was in our national interest to act. It was also right to act," he says. "In [some]countries we've seen dictators fight back, and that is why we've become involved in Libya. If we hadn't done so, many thousands of people could have been massacred in Benghazi and elsewhere."

Foreign Secretary William Hague discusses the Arab Spring.

Hague also points out that humanitarian needs, while vital to the decision, were not the only factor that determined British involvement. Had outside armies not become involved, he said, Britain and its neighbors would likely have seen "uncontrolled migration," which would have made the Arab Spring into a very palpable problem at home.

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