Political dialogue is the next most important step for Bahrain as it moves forward. A dialogue is a two-way business and thus it is important for those representing Bahrainis to sit down with each other without any pre-conditions.
“I have heard from those who spoke, of their clear determination to take the political dialogue forward. I also heard a clear condemnation of violence from all sides – the violence of the Molotov cocktail and the barriers to the street being condemned by all pol parties, Alistair Burt, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office Minister for Middle East and North Africa told the Bahrain media at a roundtable.
He urged all concerned to engage in dialogue, which he said will need compromise and start of small steps to build on to bigger ones. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report offers the way, he added.
The issues that Bahrain faces are clearly Bahraini in nature and need to be solved by the Bahrainis. It is not for anyone from outside to interfere or to suggest any way, said the minister. He said that His Majesty the King calling for the BICI report and accepting the shortcomings as mentioned are a brave step forward.
Bahrain, he said, is a kingdom in which people know each other and there is a history of reform. There is a history of relationship between the communities here. There is something to build on.
He said it doesn’t take too much to look at the neighbourhood and see how things can lead to disaster if things go out of control.
Asked by the Bahrain News Agency about the mid way the UK views to break the stalemate in issues, Burt said history is full of impossibles becoming possible. :Where parties would not talk to each other – for instance apartheid, eastern Europe or Northern Ireland – leaders get engaged and say we can do something different, and when they do something for the people. The people learn that they can confide in each other. Staying engaged can make things happen. I pay tribute to leaders on all sides, who are talking to each other and trying to find a way through. That is the answer,” he added.
Turning to the issue of the police being targeted by the youth and how nobody mentions their state, the minister said, those who goad the police into action have committed violence against police. That should be condemned and the opposition has said so. Unequivocal condemnation of violence and keeping the ranks under control are important, he added.
“Positive engagement was crucial. It was important for all to talk and the reason for it found. Political leaders -- the Nationalists who renounced violence and returned to the people said this is the way forward under great pressure. The Establishment leaders of the UK went to those who committed acts of violence and said that there is a way forward, despite taking criticism from parties. It took political courage, he added
The death of between the community and the need for political leadership have echoes here, said the minister.
Those who recognize the risks in society and want to close those exist. The people want to be Bahrainis and that is a positive echo, he said.
Turning to the situation in Syria and UK’s view of it, the minister said Kofi Annan’s proposal needs to be supported by all in the United Nations Security Council. “We are working with Russia to see how their leverage can be used with the Syrian regime. We look to the cessation of violence. If Annan plan is not followed then the unrest in Syria could spill over and be huge, he warned.
The minister added that he met with leaders of various political societies, human rights groups on his visit. The repercussions of the BICI report is still seen as unique in the region.
The UK, he said, remains a friend of Bahrain and all Bahrainis and considers this a very important relation. “We sought to put that in place in terms to our response to the issues being raised here by offering support and expertise where it is sought and requested.”
The implementation of the BICI recommendations is important and while some things have been done some remain. “We therefore remain in a position of wanting to support that process in many different ways. We have offered support in terms of capacity building in judiciary, the security force reform,” he added.