Medvedev: Syria leadership should leave if can't reform

Russian president says Moscow actively working with leaders in Damascus; decisions shouldn't be made by NATO, but by Syrians in Syria.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that the Syrian leadership should leave power if it is unable to implement promised reforms, the state-run RIA news agency reported.
"We are using our channels and are actively working with the Syrian leadership, we are demanding that the Syrian leadership implement the necessary reforms," RIA quoted Medvedev as saying.
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"If the Syrian leadership is incapable of conducting such reforms, it will have to go, but this decision should be taken not in NATO or certain European countries, it should be taken by the Syrian people and the Syrian leadership."
Last week, Russia joined forces with China to veto a European-drafted UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria and hinting that it could face sanctions if it continues its crackdown on protesters.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council that Moscow's veto reflected "a conflict of political approaches" between Russia and the European council members.
Churkin said that Moscow was firmly opposed to the threat of sanctions against Damascus, adding that what he described as the confrontational approach of the European delegations was "against the peaceful settlement of the crisis."
He reiterated his concerns that passing the European resolution on Syria could have opened the door to a Libya-style military intervention in the Syrian authorities' six-month crackdown on anti-government demonstrations there.
Churkin added, however, that Moscow would prefer it if Syria was "quicker with implementing the promised changes." He was referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad's promised democratic reforms.