Baird expands sanctions against Syria, takes aim at Russia
Published Friday, August 31, 2012 11:34AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 31, 2012 5:32PM EDT
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird turned up the pressure on the Syrian regime on Friday, adding more than 50 names to Canada’s economic blacklist and calling out Russia for supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Baird added 47 people and three companies to Canada’s blacklist, including high-ranking military officers and dignitaries as well as Drex Technologies, the state-owned Cotton Marketing Organization and Syrian Arab Airlines.
Forty-nine entities and 180 people are currently blacklisted by Canada in relation to the Syrian conflict. Baird said the move will help isolate Assad’s regime.
The foreign affairs minister also renewed pleas on Friday for the UN Security Council to enact binding sanctions against Syria. Baird said Canada takes “great exception” to Russia’s support of the Syrian regime.
During a press conference in Toronto, Baird said Canada will make its views known to Russia, including its decision to block the security council from taking stronger action.
“We will bring up strong objections to the actions of the Russian government which we take great exception to,” said Baird. “Not just the veto at the security council, but moral support and other support that has allowed this regime to soldier on.”
Baird said Canada is not contemplating any military action in Syria and he added that the Syrian opposition is still fragmented.
“Not every situation can be solved by outside military action,” said Baird. “What worked tremendously well in Libya is not transferable to what the situation in Syria is, in our judgment.”
Baird also raised concerns about retaliation against ethnic and religious minorities if and when the Assad regime falls.
“Obviously we want to work with the international community to help the opposition prepare for a post-Assad area,” said Baird.
He added that Canada’s greatest concern in the war-torn country is the stability of Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile.