Britain contributed to Middle East instability: Cameron

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

KUWAIT CITY - Britain’s backing to autocratic regimes in the Middle East contributed to the instability in the region, Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday.

Addressing the Kuwaiti parliament, Cameron said Britain would back democracy campaigners who are seeking greater rights across the Middle East, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The prime minister said the popular uprisings across the Arab world showed that the West had been wrong to support dictators and oppressive regimes.

“History is sweeping through your neighbourhood. Not as a result of force and violence, but by people seeking their rights, and in the vast majority of cases doing so peacefully and bravely,” Cameron said.

Britain and other Western countries backed authoritarian regimes in the region, making few efforts to push the allies towards democratic reform. That approach was wrong and counter-productive, he said.

“For decades, some argued that stability required highly controlling regimes, and that reform and openness would put that stability at risk. So, the argument went, countries like Britain faced a choice between our interests and our values.”

“As recent events have confirmed, denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability, rather the reverse.”

He said Britain’s economic and security interests would ultimately be advanced by a more democratic Middle East.

“Our interests lie in upholding our values - in insisting on the right to peaceful protest, in freedom of speech and the internet, in freedom of assembly and the rule of law,” he said.

He, however, said his remarks did not mean Britain will try to force the regimes to become Western-style democracies.

“There is no single formula for success, and there are many ways to ensure greater, popular participation in government. We respect your right to take your own decisions, while offering our goodwill and support,” he added.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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