MADRID, (SANA) - President Bashar Al-Assad renewed Syria's traditional stance that peace can never be realized as long as occupation remains, and can never be achieved without the restoration of the rights, on top of which is the full return of the occupied Syrian Golan.

 In a joint press conference with Spanish Premier José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero following their talks at the Spanish Prime Ministry in Madrid, President Al-Assad said ''the peace can not be realized unless it is a comprehensive one; we can not talk about peace on the Syrian track without the Palestinian track,'' wondering how can negotiations begin on the Palestinian track in light of Palestinian division.

President Al-Assad affirmed that relations between Syria and Spain are traditional and strong, noting that Spain's credibility is acquired through the role played by His Majesty King Juan Carlos and the political stances of Prime Minister Zapatero during difficult conditions affecting the entire world.

 

"For us in Syria, the most important stance that expressed this credibility was regarding the war on Iraq and making the decision to withdraw the Spanish forces participating in that war… It wasn't easy at that time to make such a decision, but when policy is based on principles, it surpasses all other considerations that any politician might face," President Al-Assad said.

His Excellency pointed out that the Middle East, a 'troubled' region and that Syria is in the heart of the region geographically and politically, and is in direct contact with most complicated problems in it.

"The conditions of stability that we have been seeking for decades seem to have decreased in recent months until now… Peace opportunities in the Middle East are less compared to war opportunities,'' added President Al-Assad, pointing out that these conditions give special importance to his visit to Spain and meeting with Prime Minister Zapatero in this regard.

The President affirmed that Spain is Syria's friend, and that its role wasn't limited to holding the conference where the peace process was launched 19 years ago, saying "We don't view Spain as only a part of the history of this process… we view it through its credibility as a country with large responsibilities in the Middle East in political and humane aspect, because the suffering endured by our region isn't acceptable by the Spanish side.

President Al-Assad stressed that the main issue during his talks with Spanish officials during the visit was how to mobilize under the current circumstances to launch the peace process or reduce the possibilities of war, adding that both those issues are parallel.

''There is a Spanish interest in the achievement of Palestinian reconciliation. We also have the same interest as to re-launch the negotiations which would directly support the Syrian track reaching to the comprehensive peace,'' said President Al-Assad.

President Al-Assad wondered about the possibility of seeing such a peace under the inhuman siege imposed on Gaza, where there are a million and a half of humans besieged with no minimum human life prerequisites. 'There are no fuel, electricity,… hospitals do not work, people die: children, elderly, ill and others due to the absence of possible treatment in hospitals,' added President Al-Assad.

His Excellency added that we have asked the Spanish Premier Zapatero, given their relations with Israel and European Union membership, to play a role for the lifting of the siege on Gaza. '' We believe that the latest European stances, especially following the Israeli attack against Freedom Flotilla carrying human aid to Gaza, go in this direction,'' declared President Al-Assad.

President Al-Assad went on to say that the talks also touched upon next October's Mediterranean Summit Conference. '' The Mediterranean Summit needs the achievement of peace, or at least to launch peace negotiations, as to be successful. Of the most important points discussed by me and Premier Zapatero is how to make this Summit result in deeds and not only in political stances,'' reiterating Syria's support for the Conference and desire as to be a place for the achievement of the peace and not for  the issuance of statements.

Regarding the Syrian-European Association Agreement, the President said that it is currently being studied by relevant authorities in the Syrian government and that it is in its final stages, adding "later, they will relay their reservations to the government to be approved, and then the European delegation will be invited to hold negotiations regarding those reservations."

On the Iranian nuclear file, President Al-Assad said ''we expressed concern over the non-response by the agreement concluded by Brazil, Turkey and Iran as a gateway opened to reach a solution…The door is still open despite all the complexities that ensued following the rejection of the agreement.''

 He added he is hopeful that the European Union will benefit from the agreement to bring more stability to the region which can bear no more complexities and problems.

President Al-Assad reiterated invitation for the Spanish premier to use Spain's credibility at this very critical situation, pointing out that the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, once the EU special envoy for the Middle East peace process, is the most fit among his colleagues in the EU to play that role, given his awareness of the details of the Middle East peace process, whether in the Spanish government or in the European countries who have the same stances on peace.

On his part, Spanish Premier José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero welcomed the visit of President Al-Assad to Spain following his Latin America tour, in demonstration of the good relations between Spain and Syria.

Premier Zapatero noted that the visit of President Al-Assad comes under important circumstances for the situation in the Middle East, asserting that Spain accords big importance to Syria for its active and kernel role in the causes of the Middle East.

Zapatero referred to 'grave events' that took place recently in the Middle East, particularly in the aftermath of the Israeli attack against Freedom Flotilla, asserting that such circumstances should move towards the lifting of the siege on Gaza.

''This is what Spain has been doing within the framework of the European Union as to make the siege lifting on Gaza a concrete reality,'' said the Spanish Premier asserting that the realization of this objective is a commitment by him before President Al-Assad.

Answering a question on whether there are new expectations with the European Union on the Middle East in the light of the latest international developments and whether these expectations keep pace with the proposal laid down in Latin America to create a new orientation named 'The Freedom and Peoples Stream", President Al-Assad said "Regarding Latin America. We have heard objective attitudes on the issues discussed with Premier Zapatero… The situation in Latin America is different. Unlike Europe, there is no Latin Union. There are Syrian communities occupying decision-making positions which enable them to convey the correct image and play a political role. While the situation in Europe is a little bit different.

 The president added that Spain wasn’t a part of the attempts to isolate Syria. Spain maintained direct relations with Syria when some European countries tried to isolate Syria and weaken its position. Spain rejected all these attempts.

 "In the past, there were different European stances. Today, during our meetings with European officials who have visited Syria, particularly foreign ministers, we noticed that the differences and disparities between the European countries' stances towards these issues have become very little. We want to move from this unified viewpoint in Europe to action. We want Spain to move because the new European atmosphere helps such a move. The vision towards the problem is close but we have to reach solution," he said.

 President Al-Assad added that today's meeting aimed at discussing how to benefit from this relatively positive atmosphere in Europe and the other countries to reduce tension and the possibility of war in the Middle East.

 Answering a question on the effect of Turkey's threat to sever ties with Israel unless the latter apologizes for its attack on Freedom Flotilla on the regional security and stability and peace talks, President Al-Assad said, ''We view the Turkish-Israeli relations from two perspectives…The first is Turkish role in the peace process which is built on the relationship between Turkey and Israel and the relationship between Turkey and Syria. Any mediator must have good ties with both parties.

 The second perspective is that the Israeli government's policies are not only the attack on Freedom Flotilla, but its non-response to the indirect Syrian-Israeli talks in Turkey in 2008 and the war on Gaza…All of these affected the Israeli-Turkish relations…As a result, these relations have not been back to normal and the Turkish role will be difficult to make these talks take place.

 President Al-Assad indicated that Turkey succeeded in managing these talks and played its role competently, pointing that Turkey is living in the region and is aware of all the details.

 ''Therefore, if Turkey's role in the negotiations process on the Syrian track recedes, this will affect regional stability…The matter is not that easy, because it was the Israeli policies, aggressions and Gaza siege which caused lack of stability, and not only severing ties between Turkey and Israel could affect the peace process,'' President Al-Assad added.

 On the necessity of finding European new policies in dealing with the peace efforts in the region and how they can complement the efforts of the Latin American countries, President Al-Assad considered that "the peace process needs parties, sponsor, reference… and the basic role lies in the parties… and if there are no parties willing in peace, we can't ask Europe or the US to play a role." 

 "Europe today can assume that through persuading the parties to play a role in the peace process… Syria is ready… they have to work in this regard on the Israeli side, and Latin America play this role and this broker could negotiate with the US which is one of the sponsors to launch this process," President Al-Assad said.

 The President added that this dialogue include talks on the reference itself and how to reach a clear definition of the Security Council references.

 On his part, Spanish Premier José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero welcomed the visit of President Al-Assad to Spain following his Latin America tour, in demonstration of the good relations between Spain and Syria.

 Premier Zapatero noted that the visit of President Al-Assad comes under important circumstances for the situation in the Middle East, asserting that Spain accords big importance to Syria for its active and kernel role in the causes of the Middle East.

 Zapatero referred to 'grave events' that took place recently in the Middle East, particularly in the aftermath of the Israeli attack against Freedom Flotilla, asserting that such circumstances should move towards the lifting of the siege on Gaza.

 ''This is what Spain has been doing within the framework of the European Union as to make the siege lifting on Gaza a concrete reality,'' said the Spanish Premier asserting that the realization of this objective is a commitment by him before President Al-Assad.

 "We discussed with President Al-Assad the latest developments on the Palestinian arena. Spain can play a positive role to push the peace process forwards due to its diplomatic and political position," Premier Zapatero said.

 He added "We have talked about negotiations regarding the EU-Syria Association Agreement… I have conveyed to his Excellency the importance of signing this agreement from the political point of view because Syria is an important country for the EU."

 As for Spain and the EU efforts to lift the Israeli siege on Gaza, Zapatero said "Spain and the EU strongly call for lifting the blockade, and we have called on the Israeli government to do this and ease the burdens of the humanitarian situation there," adding that the EU and Spain support the UN's plans to reconstruct the Strip.

 The talks were attended by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, Presidential Political and Media Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban and Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Azzam.

 For the Spanish side, the meeting was attended by Spanish Foreign Minister  Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spanish Premier's General Secretary Bernardo Leon and the Political and Media advisors to the Spanish Prime Minister.

 

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