Russian PM slams French support of Syrian rebels ahead of visit
Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev has criticised France’s recognition of opposition rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
In an interview with Agence France-Presse and Le Figaro, ahead of a visit to Paris on Monday, Medvedev called the support of France and other nations “unacceptable.”
France was the first European country to recognise the newly formed Syrian National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people.
“From the point of view of international law, this is absolutely unacceptable,” Medvedev said. “A desire to change the political regime of another state by recognising a political force as the sole carrier of sovereignty seems to me to be not completely civilised.”
Fabius also denied that Paris is breaking the European embargo on arms to Syria.
France was the first Western power to recognise the Syrian National Coalition, followed by the UK on Tuesday, and has called for the European Union to provide “defensive weapons” to the Syrian rebels.
European foreign ministers discussed the question at a meeting in Brussels on Monday and decided to invite a coalition representative to their next meeting in December.
Fabius hailed a “clear development” in European attitudes to the Syrian conflict.
France has suggested providing the coalition with arms against President Bashar al-Assad if it forms government and removing defensive weapons for rebels from the EU embargo on Syria.
Medvedev defended Russia’s supply of arms to Syria.
“Russia does not support the Assad regime or the opposition. We have a neutral position,” he said, “all we have delivered are arms for defence against external aggression.”
Medvedev is due to meet with President François Hollande to discuss the situation in Syria on Tuesday.
In the interview the former Russian president also accused the European Union of indecisiveness in dealing with the eurozone crisis and said he hadn’t ruled out a return to the Kremlin following his single term as Russian head of state.