Topical Questions

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 11th November 2008.

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Photo of William Hague William Hague Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs) 2:30 pm, 11th November 2008

I think that that answer means that the Foreign Secretary will make no attempt to explain any inconsistency between his remarks last month and his actions this month. What he said last month was in line with the EU summit of 1 September, which said that the implementation of the ceasefire agreement "has to be complete". I realise that in the past couple of weeks he has probably been overruled by the Prime Minister—or, more alarmingly, by the Business Secretary—but does it not show extraordinary weakness for the Government and the EU to be unable to stick to a firm position for even three months on an agreement that the EU itself sponsored and negotiated? What sort of message does that send to Russia about the future? In our dealings with Russia, do we not need to demonstrate consistency and strategic patience, and does not what he has agreed make this country and our partners look incapable of either?

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