Foreign Secretary William Hague
Foreign Secretary William Hague REUTERS

The British Foreign Secretary William Hague has issued an ultimatum on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: make democratic reforms or step down from power.

Speaking at an EU meeting in Luxembourg, Hague expressed his hopes that Turkey will pressure its neighbor.

I know that Turkey has many contacts, much influence in Syria, so I hope our Turkish colleagues will bring every possible pressure to bear on the Assad regime with a very clear message that they are losing legitimacy [and] that Assad should reform or step aside,” he said.

I hope they will be very clear and very bold about that.

EU ministers are expected to strengthen sanctions against Assad and his top officials.

The United Kingdom looks to [Assad]... to respond to legitimate grievances, to release prisoners of conscience, to open up access to the internet and freedom of the media, and to cooperate with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Hague said.

At least 1,100 Syrians have been killed since the revolt against Assad commenced months ago and at least 10,000 have fled to Turkey to escape a brutal crackdown.

Over the weekend, the British Foreign Office urged its citizens still in Syria to flee the country at once.