Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad gave an interview to head of Austrian daily "Standard" Foreign Policy Section, Joerdan Harr, in which the focus was made on the European-Syrian relations, the Syrian-American relations, the Anglo-American aggression on Iraq, as well as on the events in the region that followed the Second Gulf War and his vision regarding the future.

 The president pointed out that the European countries whether they are big or small can play a role in the world through bilateral relations or through the European Union and so the harmonious stances of the EU countries intensify the effectiveness of the European stances which is imperative because the world can not let one country think on behalf of all.

 The president added that the European countries should not be divided by their stances although the variety of opinions is acceptable and the interaction between Europe and the Middle East has given the European countries an important and positive role to play in the world. 

With regard to Austria's position, the president underlined that a role and action is expected from Austria whether through the EU or through bilateral relations and such a role would be effective if we listened to each other particularly as far as future positions are concerned.

 

Regarding pan-Arabism and the Arab League the president indicated that pan-Arabism is a doctrine while the Arab League is an organization, and so when a problem occurs the ordinary Arab peoples in the Arab states will have identical reactions and feelings while the Arab League represents the Arab governments and regimes and the success of this organization depends on the contacts among the officials. 

Regarding the Syrian-American relations, President Al-Assad indicated that relations with United States are contradictory. For example there is contradiction regarding terrorism and Iraq, and while we are cooperating with regard to terrorism yet there is complete difference between the two countries on the Iraqi issue. 

H. E. Al-Assad underlined that the United States because it is a superpower is trying to impose its opinions on others but Syria has always acted in line with its convictions, and interests and Syria's conviction with regard to war has remained unchanged while the Americans could not link Iraq with terrorism or mass destruction weapons. 

Concerning the Vatican position, the president stressed that this very positive factor is represented by the opposition of the pope to the aggression on Iraq and this will reflect positively in the relations between Christians and Moslems in the world.

 H. E. Al-Assad underlined that Syria is very proud of the historical relations between Christians and Moslems in the country. 

H. E. Al-Assad indicated that following the Sept. 11th events many negative developments have emerged and so the Europeans are called to play their role to correct the vision that has surfaced following the events of Sept. 11th.

 The president underlined that extremism is not confined to Moslems but there is also an extremist Christian and an extremist Moslem and extremism doesn't mean terrorism although a terrorist might hide himself under religion. 

H. E. Al-Assad underlined that while the war on Iraq is ongoing, Sharon's practices in Palestine and Kashmir issue are all activating terrorism including the issue of Democratic Korea and with the absence of the United Nations there is a continuous feeling of injustice and anxiety regarding the future. 

The president indicated that the dangerous thing is when a superpower thinks that rapprochement can only be done through military might and by creating wars.

 Regarding the US peace initiatives in the region the president underlined that the US peace initiatives which have begun since1974 by late US. President Richard Nixon have never been serious enough, and while Israel feels herself getting stronger she dismisses the ideas regarding peace conferences. Israel doesn't want peace and Sharon who is a criminal since Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon was elected twice in Israel.

 President Al-Assad indicated that the summit between US Former President Bill Clinton and late President Hafez Al-Assad failed because the preparations for the summit were incomplete and President Al-Assad was surprised to hear from Clinton that the Israelis are ready to return 95 percent of the occupied Syrian territories which President Al-Assad rejected and Clinton was surprised at the Syrian rejection as well.

 H. E. Al-Assad underlined that Syria has no conditions for the establishment of peace other than the implementation of UN relevant resolutions stressing the European role between the east and the west and Syria's role between Europe and the east due to Syria's good relations with other Islamic countries.