ANKARA-BERLIN, (SANA) _ His Excellency President Bashar Al-Assad reiterated that the occupation is the sole reason hindering the realization of Mideast Peace.

 In a joint interview with the Turkish ' Hurriyet' and the German 'Bild' dailies, President Al-Assad pointed out that there is no Israeli partner to make peace and the Israelis are not ready to hold peace negotiations.

 President Al-Assad added that the issue of peace is not a Syrian- Israeli one, but rather the realization of the peace in the entire region, asserting the necessity for Israel's implementation of all the United Nations Security Council resolutions and returning the occupied territories to their owners.

 President Al-Assad underscored that all have the right to defend their land and that Syria will continue supporting the resistance as long as it continues its resistance to restore the rights and the land.

 His Excellency the president made it clear that wars always create the more of terrorism, and that no war can protect the West, which is to be protected by balanced policy, economic growth and helping others in development, education and culture.

 President Al-Assad described the role played by Turkey as 'important' in creating a ' sort of balance' in the region, calling on the European Union to work for Turkey's joining the EU, because it needs Turkey as an Islamic Country as not to be changed into a Christian club.

 Regarding Syria's evaluation of the absence of peace in the region for hundreds of years, President Al-Assad said "There is one reason preventing the achievement of peace, which is occupation… So, occupation is the cause of all wars… first the English, then the French, and now Israel."

 On the changes needed to achieve peace in the region, President Al-Assad said "In short, Israel must apply all the UN Security Council resolutions and return the occupied lands to our people."

 Regarding the difference between the Syrian stance and the Iranian one on acknowledging the existence of Israel, President Al-Assad said "In fact, during the talks we held in Turkey two years ago, the Iranians expressed their stance very clearly and affirmed that there are no points of disagreement between them and Syria regarding achieving peace in the region… we may differ in some details, but in general there is no disagreement in opinion between the two countries."

 On the possibility of Israel resorting one day to dividing Jerusalem as capital of Palestine, President Al-Assad said "According to what we're hearing, No… the Israelis always insist that Jerusalem is their only capital in a way that accepts no sharing… they speak about Jerusalem as a whole, while the Arabs insist on East Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine."

 Regarding the existence of secret talks between Syria and Israel and the possibility of reaching a peace agreement, His Excellency said "We always express our opinion clearly and publicly and affirm that we want peace and the agreement… but we cannot achieve this only from one side, and the other side must participate… until now, there is no partner of this kind. The result is that the Israelis chose a government that advocates extremism, and this government doesn't bring peace."

 "The question that must be posed is whether the Israeli people will work to change this image or not… we don't know. There are no talks now between Syria and Israel… the Israelis aren't ready to hold any negotiations and don't want to resume any negotiations."

 President Al-Assad pointed out that the issue of peace isn't a Syrian-Israeli issue, but rather the issue of establishing peace across the region, noting that Syria objected to what al-Sadat did because in the 1970s, Syria demanded comprehensive peace, and that there wouldn't have been so many issues and conflicts if al-Sadat had been seeking a comprehensive solution, adding "So, we don't accept any show visit to Israel… we look at results and give attention to technical talks."

 On why Israel is considered the side that causes trouble and why Hamas is ignored in this regard and supported, President Al-Assad said "We don't support organizations and establishments; we support the intellectual cause… what is the main idea? Is it defending our lands? Yes, we support everybody's right to defend their land."

 "As an example, can anyone in Europe describe de Gaulle as a terrorist? They consider him a man of resistance. Is it possible that the French have the right of resistance and the Palestinians don't? This is the question… we will continue our support as long as they continue their resistance to restore their rights… this isn't the issue of Hamas, this is the Palestinian cause."

 Regarding Syria's opinion on Iran's nuclear ambitions, His Excellency said that Iran is an important country in the region whether we like it or not, and that this reality must be dealt with, adding "according to all we know, Iran isn't seeking nuclear weapons, so the issue is verifying what Iran is doing precisely, and the Iranians are ready to accept this, and this is how this issue should be regarded… we are simply searching for the suitable policy and the correct mechanisms."

 In response to a question on his vision regarding Syria's image in the world after the passing of ten years, President Al-Assad said "Do you mean by that the west or the world? Because the problem lies in the west and not the world as a whole, and the problem is that the west forgets the rest of the world… that west cannot constantly maintain the ostrich policy of burying its head in the sand and not wanting to see what is going on in the world."

 "Syria's image around the world is very good… internationally, we have very good relations and we didn't have problems with South America, East Asia and Africa, but our relation with the west was confused… it's a little better now, but not by much."

 On the world's hopes that US President Barrack Obama would bring the west and east closer and the Arab viewpoint towards Obama, President Al-Assad said "He certainly wants to do something… he awakened with his speech in Cairo great hopes in peace in the region, but if someone awakens hopes without providing results then he achieves only the opposite which leads to more despair… Obama as a President seems so far honest in intentions, but at the same time we look at results, not only intentions."

 Regarding Germany's role in the peace process, President Al-Assad said that there is constant discussion regarding the European role in the Middle East, which primarily means the European Union. He noted that the European Union isn't unified, particularly politically, so referring to the European role means referring to influential countries, adding "So far, only French President Nicolas Sarkozy is exerting efforts for the peace process."

 "Germany is a country with influence like France… but its role depends in the first place on its will… Germany's policy draws its strength not from the strength of its economy or army, but from its political will… We can't actually know about Germany's interest in the peace process, particularly concerning Syria, because we haven't seen a German official on this level for long time," President Al-Assad added.

 On his view about the policies of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Israeli storming of the Turkish ship (Marmara), President Al-Assad said "This issue has many interrelated matters, Turkey's dealing with this topic is very successful in this stage, and that was good for us… We can't take about a Turkish need for relation with Israel if Israel didn't offer an apology for the crime it committed and pay compensation to the families who lost lives in this crime".

 President Al-Assad added that the Turkish demands are just, adding that Turkey can't continue having relations with Israel without making Israel pay, because that is a matter that is related to dignity, asserting that "In fact, Israel is the one who severed its relation with Turkey and Turkey is not responsible for that."

 Answering a question on Europe's vision towards Turkey's shift from the west to the Islamic world, and Syria's stance in this regard, President Al-Assad said "I tend to say that the west is shifting away form Turkey, but I think that the role played by Turkey in the region for three decades is very important as it has created a kind of balance in this disturbed region…Definitely Europe doesn't want bad relations between Turkey and Syria and Turkey and Iran, particularly after the events of September 11th and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as nobody can imagine the repercussions."

 With regard to allowing Turkey to join the EU, President Al-Assad called upon Europe to work on Turkey's joining the EU as it is in need for Turkey as an Islamic country in order not to become a Christian club.

 The President considered that the constant European talk about openness and dialogue among different cultures can not be tackled if Europe isolates itself and confines itself to one culture and a single social system.

 Answering a question on whether the war against Afghanistan and Iraq protects the west against terrorist attacks, President Al-Assad said "no definitely, because terrorism today is much stronger than the period before September 11th….The Arab world has become more vulnerable to such attacks than ever, and if we are more vulnerable the west are also like us."

 The President wondered whether the west is able to recruit soldiers in all the airports to stand ready for any terrorist attack…I do not think that anybody wants this truly…Wars create only more terrorism and no war can protect the west …What could protect the west truly is the balanced policy, economic growth and helping others in the development, education and culture…In this way we can defeat terrorism, and also through exchanging intelligence information, but definitely not through wars.

 Regarding the mistrust between the west and the Islamic world since 9/11 and the great misunderstanding between the two sides, President Al-Assad said "This is exactly where the problem is when we talk about the west and Islam… this is wrong because it in itself contains wrong information and misunderstanding… because this means that the west along with Christianity is on one side and that Islam only exists in the east… but in Syria we have Christians and Jews and a Muslim majority."

 "Christians in the west must learn from Christians in the east, as they have been coexisting with Muslims for more than 1400 years… the west must know more about this religion, otherwise, it will always face problems in integrating Muslims in its societies," His Excellency said.

 On what should be done to confront extremism and terrorist attacks, President Al-Assad said "I believe that Islamic societies were infiltrated during the past ten years by more extremism… our duty, as Muslims, is to confront that," pointing out that there are also moderate Muslims and secular societies, and that diverse societies are more protected and can do a lot to prevent the spread of extremism.

 "We must return to the origin of religion which teaches us openness… the creed must be open to accepting other religions and coexisting with others," His Excellency said.

 Regarding the fact that not many people in the west understand that most victims of suicide attacks are Muslims, President Al-Assad said "There are two sides, one with missiles and planes that drop bombs, and the other side which has none of that but still wants to fight and can only use its body, which is why people are blowing themselves up," noting that some of these people don't even care about Islam, as one suicide bomber three years ago was from a secular family and was driven by despair.

 "If we want to end suicide attacks we must put an end to despair… despair can be ended by giving people their rights, or at least giving them hope of reaching their rights one day… that is the solution," President Al-Assad said.

 In response to a question on an idea for an entry visa between Syria, Turkey and Lebanon posed by Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Al-Assad pointed out that he was the one to suggest this idea, and that he posed the idea of free transit between Syria and Turkey three years ago, adding that he was very pleased when Premier Erdogan informed him in 2009 of Turkey's agreement to cancel entry visas between the two countries.

 On holding the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the significance of this event, President Al-Assad said "This is an achievement… a small country like Qatar hosts a large event like this… this is not an ordinary thing… of course we as Arabs share it with Qatar with all our sentiments, and we are proud. I believe that every Arab person feels like he won this competition."