His Excellency, President Al-Assad pointed out during the interview that "today we live in a world that lost its balance. The United Nations is ineffective. Sometimes the United Nations is driven to use or follow double standards. There are supper powers in the world. As far as we are concerned, i.e. small countries, we used to seek the help and support of supper powers in order to establish prosperity and not the other way round. These forces didn't have any colonial experience before the war on Iraq, and that is why I say that wars are results; they are not causes. So we are worried about wrong policies.", "That is what we are worried about: the wrong policies. We see that things are worsening by the day,"

 The president said that "what is destroyed by a war can be rebuilt in months or years, but what is destroyed through wrong policies might need many generations to reconstruct or rebuild. That is how we see it from a comprehensive viewpoint, and not only from a military perspective. It is part of the larger issue."

 Answering a question on Iraq , President Al-Assad said "the situation as we see it, or as it is seen by other people in other countries in Arab, Middle Eastern or even distant countries outside the Middle East; all these countries agree that the situation is very bad politically, economically, on the humanitarian level and from the other perspectives. That is what we heard from the Iraqis themselves; who have the real problem." The problem started with the occupation and the collapse of the state in Iraq. Regardless of how we look at a country like Iraq, the solution is to reverse this process, by withdrawal (of occupation), and by establishing a state which guarantees stability and prosperity, regardless of how we define this state. So the most important thing is to agree on withdrawal, as a principle, and to set a timetable for withdrawal. Parallel to that, there should be an Iraqi constitution approved by the Iraqi people. This constitution prepares at a later stage for the election of other institutions in the state, like a government, a parliament or other institutions that represent the Iraqi state and people. We should agree on principles and then we should discuss the timetable."

 The president underlined that "there should be work on building the state with its different institutions. Some people argue that the withdrawal of the American forces will lead to a civil war. This might be true if there were a civil war in Iraq. There was no civil war in Iraq. Iraq was not a nation without state. Previously, it had many problems, and we have our view on these problems, but there was a form of state, and many people disagreed with that state, and we ourselves disagreed with that state. But there is no civil war in order to say that the withdrawal of America and British forces will lead to more turbulence. This is one aspect. On the other hand, it depends on how these forces deal with the Iraqi condition."

 President Al-Assad added that "if the American forces withdraw without allowing the Iraqi people to draw a constitution and to elect their institutions, there would be problems. These occupation forces have responsibilities. The responsibility is to transfer authorities to the Iraqi people, so that they can choose their own future. Then, the withdrawal of these forces will be positive in all respects, for the Iraqi people and the Iraqi state."

 Answering a question on Syria's position towards the '"Roadmap" (peace plan) and towards the question of peace process in the Middle East, President Al-Assad underlined that "there are initiatives proposed to us using certain terms and that the latest of these was the 'Roadmap'. If you like to draw a map of a certain road, then the road should be there in the first place; otherwise the map will be an illusory one." "This is one of the problems that we suffer from in the Middle East, particularly after the beginning of the peace process. Moving from one illusive initiative to another illusive initiative, causing frustration, obstacles, and difficulties; and these produce further complications and difficulties," the president said.

 His Excellency added "So at the beginning, and before we use this term, the 'Roadmap', we should identify the road to peace.'' President Al-Assad added that "we have to identify a comprehensive vision that consist of a number of elements, and that would lead in the end to the establishment of peace. The first element is to identify the objective which is the establishment of peace between the two conflicting parties that have been in a state of conflict for a number of years. Also, if we want to speak about the road, it is to implement (U.N.) Security Council resolutions relevant to the peace process, particularly the principle of 'land for peace' which applies to resolutions 242 and 338. We have also to identify the tools and instruments in order to move on this road to peace. The instruments are negotiations as far as we are concerned. This is the available instrument for the achievement of the final objective of peace. So moving on this road needs tools and instruments in order to achieve peace. These instruments need some kind of calibration to achieve the desired objective. Calibration needs criteria," the president mentioned.

 He pointed out that "we started the peace process 13 years ago, and we have not achieved anything. One reason is that there are is no criteria. So, the instrument or the vision that we have is the one we agreed on in the Madrid Conference; we, as one party, and the other parties, the United Nations, the United States, and all countries of the world supported the Madrid Conference which possessed the instruments, the road, the objectives and the vision. We should reconsider the causes of the failure of the peace process; we should put new criteria and move on with confidence. Then we can achieve peace. This is the Syrian vision which we propose to the officials we meet to discuss the peace process."

 Concerning the bombing attacks launched against areas in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Istanbul, and if they were Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda, and the President's evaluation of those attacks, he said that "We have made our condemnation of these terrorist attacks. We also think that there is no Al-Qaeda Organization. Many of these cases are individual ones, and some of them might be organized. It is not enough to condemn terrorism. We are still, on the international level, running away from dealing with the root causes of terrorism. The question of terrorism is treated in a wrong way, because you cannot fight terrorism by launching traditional war, there is no army to fight. You tackle that with dialogue and culture, and through correct political performances. One of the most important causes," the president continued is "the existence of a fertile soil for terrorism caused by not addressing the Palestinian issue."

 "Although the rights of Palestinians are acknowledged by the whole world, these rights are being continuously violated. The occupation of Iraq led to a great deal of confusion. This confusion might prepare for more terrorism regardless of naming al-Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden's. I think that the danger is much greater than Bin Laden, and it has become much more dangerous after Sep.11th, 2001," Al-Assad added.

 Answering another question related to the U.S. declaration that it will create Iraq as a model of democracy for the Arab states, the president said that Democracy cannot be imported. Every people create their own democracy. If you want to go into the details of the situation in Iraq, a little while ago I talked about an Iraqi constitution. The United States has not allowed so far the Iraqis to draw a constitution. The U.S. troops are killing Iraqis on a daily basis. They came as a liberating forces, but services are bad, there is no water, no electricity, no security. Is this," the President wondered "the democracy that the US is talking about. We don't think that this is the model they are talking about."

 

About his visit to Greece and the role the European countries can play in this region, the Al-Assad stressed that "there is a number of points that we agree on with the European States individually, and there are issues that we disagree on, particularly when it comes to details of our causes."

 President Al-Assad called for an effective European role, he called on Europe to own the needed instruments on the international level in order for Europe to be an effective international power.

 About Greece, Al-Assad stressed that it is an effective member of the EU, and last year, it held the EU presidency. He described the relations with Greece as warm, and what distinguishes the relationship with Greece is that this warmth does not fluctuate or change. The reason are in the historical relationship, the cultural and historical links.

 This gave the Greeks an objective vision view of different issues in the Middle East, particularly the Syrian cause, the Golan issue, and also the Palestinian issue. The President added that the doors of this relationship have always been open, stressing the necessity of enhancing them, particularly in the economic field.

 Concerning the reform process in Syria, and if it, at some time, has slowed down, the president said that "some person might think it is slow, another might think it is fast. These are individual evaluations. We should work as fast as possible, with all our efforts and capabilities, provided that we do not create dangers or threats to this reform."

 "We, in Syria," the President added, "are progressing in the process of reform. It is sometimes fast, it is slow in certain areas because of the existence of certain obstacles. We have been moving smoothly, but there are obstacles. We have been able to overcome some, but have not been able to overcome others, but things are moving forward."