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Socialist International: Urgent action needed on Syria

Delegates from 21 European and Middle Eastern socialist parties attended a meeting of the Socialist International in Istanbul on Friday, discussing democratization efforts in Arab Spring states and the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria.

“We are alarmed by events in Syria and believe that a ceasefire must immediately be granted and an end to the international community’s deadlock must be achieved quickly,” said Socialist International President and former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. “The burden for the violence is now squarely on the Syrian regime, whose actions we strongly condemn.”

Republican People’s Party Chairman (CHP) and conference host Kemal Kilicdaroglu meanwhile cautioned against foreign intervention in Syria, saying that outside powers would quickly turn the year-long struggle between Damascus and a growing opposition movement into a “bloody civil war.”

Kilicdaroglu’s party has reacted harshly to Ankara’s hints that it would participate in an UN-backed “humanitarian intervention” in Syria and recently suggested that “imperialist powers” are pressing Turkey to intervene in the conflict.

Critics world wide have cautioned that the Arab Spring of 2011 risks a fate similar to Europe’s infamous 1848 “Spring of Nations” revolution, where a generation of wide-eyed revolutionaries were swept aside by Europe’s powers-that-be. Lest Syria’s revolutionaries meet a similar fate at the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s country-wide crackdown on dissent, members on Friday spoke of the need to foster a decisive international response to the crisis.

“This is not an issue that we should think of in the context of “the Socialist family,” but as members of the international community,” said Papandreou.

He added that European and Middle Eastern leaders need to be more decisive in bringing Damascus allies Russia and China on board with a plan that would “ensure the safe and prompt delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria.”

The meeting also saw envoys express doubts over the fragmented state of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC).

Specially invited members of the SNC meanwhile argued that the opposition was working to unite and that the international community’s focus should be on the “pressing and basic human needs” of the Syrian people.

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