Presidents Al-Assad/ Yankovych Press Conference 


Kiev, (SANA)-President Bashar Al-Assad held talks on Friday with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych at the Presidential Palace in Kiev in two sessions, one bilateral and another plenary.

President Al-Assad stressed the importance of renewing traditional relations between the two countries, referring to the new generations bearing the two cultures and entering the job market in both countries.

The President said that Ukraine's important position encourages us for long-term strategic cooperation that starts with political cooperation, consultation and coordination, and ends in the Free Trade Zone between the two countries.

For his part, President Yanukovych underlined the long-standing cooperation and the importance of taking appropriate measures to make success of the political dialogue and giving great attention to parliamentary relations between the two countries.

He described Syria as an influential country, not only in the Middle East, but also in the Arab and Islamic worlds.

The session of talks was followed by a press conference in which the two Presidents summed up their talks.

President Al-Assad expressed happiness at visiting Ukraine to restore warmth to the centuries-long bilateral relations.

''These relations are based on thousands of graduates, students and workers from Syria who are currently in Ukraine….In addition to thousands of Syrian-Ukrainian families in the two countries,'' President Al-Assad added.

President Al-Assad went on to say ''We have a young generation bearing the two cultures working in Syria and Ukraine in various important positions. Added to that is the natural bridge between us, which is the standing economic relations which kept progressing despite the slow down over the past few years. Today we want to make up for what we missed during these years'' .

President Al-Assad described the talks as very successful and rich in topics, attributing this to President Yanukovych policy vis-à-vis the Black Sea region and the international relations as a whole, adding that Ukraine is enjoying political stability and plays a far balanced political and regional role.

''The topics we raised with President Yanukovych today, whether in terms of bilateral or international relations and the situations in the two regions, were constructive and integrated to a large extent. The most important topic is signing the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries which we foresee to be completed before the end of February at a date to be set later by the Syrian-Ukrainian Committee in this regard.''

"This agreement will open the doors widely before the Syrian-Ukrainian relationship and at the same time will enhance relationship between the two regions. This is why we focused today in the first place on the transport issue, particularly sea and air transport, as it is the basis for developing the relationship," said President Al-Assad.

He added that two agreements on maritime transport were signed, urging more work to increase the number of flights between Damascus and Kiev.

"This relationship and those agreements open wide doors for cooperation and open a door for Syria toward the Baltics in the north and for Ukraine toward the Red Sea and the Gulf in the south," the President said.

President Al-Assad went on to say that in addition to the Free Trade Agreement, a number of agreements not yet completed will open the doors for cooperation in economy, culture, scientific research and joint industry.

He expressed hope these agreements will be completed as soon as possible to be integrated with the free trade agreement.

President Al-Assad said, "Our common interest, President Yanukovych and I, in economy obviously means that we are interested in stability. This also means that we are interested in peace anywhere, particularly in the Middle East which also concerns the world."

The President added, "I stressed Syria's desire and efforts to achieve peace and the importance of implementing the international legitimacy resolutions related to restoring the rights and finding a partner for us in the peace process."

President Al-Assad thanked the Ukrainian President for his invitation to visit Ukraine and his enthusiasm to develop relations between the two countries, saying "what I heard from him today of topics and proposals show the importance of Ukraine and stress that cooperation between us can be strategic and on the long term because those proposals reflect an independent vision." For his part, the Ukrainian President said, "It is a great honor for me to welcome President Al-Assad and the accompanying delegation in Ukraine. This is the first visit by a Syrian President since Ukraine gained its independence. This is an important visit to push relations between the two countries as it will open new horizons for developing them."

President Yanukovych went on saying, "we held prolonged talks and reviewed the situation of the bilateral relations in all fields. It is important for me to be in direct contact and friendship with President Al-Assad."

He pointed out that the history of the relationship and friendship between the two countries dates back to the time when Ukrainian experts helped in building the infrastructure of Syria. Since then, thousands of Syrian students have graduated from the Ukrainian institutes and universities.

The Ukrainian President continued "Today, we outlined with President Al-Assad the most important spheres in which we should cooperate…I think we have laid the bases for this cooperation… Ukraine considers Syria as a promising and the most important partner in the world and in the Middle East."

"We also agreed on the necessity of activating the bilateral cooperation on the scientific, technical, economic and humanitarian levels…We see there are wide opportunities and prospects to activate this cooperation in the field of transport, and to link the five seas so that we can connect these areas with a ramified network."

The President pointed out to the role of the Syrian-Ukrainian Joint Committee in the scientific and technical domains and its future outcomes.

President Yanukovych continued saying "We also discussed the urgent international issues…and the situations in the Middle East…as well as the cooperation among the international organizations."

The President voiced his country's welcome of the successes and achievements made by Syria in the international and regional arenas and the efforts it exerts in realizing its strategy on linking the five seas.

The Ukrainian President said his country's stances are firm regarding the Middle East peace process and that all parties should commit to the relevant UN resolutions in order to restore stability and security to the Middle East region, stressing that the current crisis should be solved peacefully under the supervision of all the parties.

President Yanukovych thanked President Al-Assad for the constructive dialogue and the friendly and fraternal atmosphere.

Answering a question to both Presidents on the reason of the delay in signing the Free Trade Agreement between Syria and Ukraine, President Al-Assad said, "When we planned this visit a few weeks ago, we expected that the agreement would have been finished before the visit and will be signed today. What happed was that some points had not been studied yet. Anyway, there were no disagreement on any of the points and no obstacles…Probably, we call this bureaucracy. That's why the main issue today was to complete what is left as soon as possible…It is just a matter of time."

For his part, President Yanukovych voiced his full approval on what President Al-Assad said, pointing out that both sides agreed on holding a new round of negotiations concerning the establishment of a free trade zone next January or February, noting to the possibility of working with a third country.

The Ukrainian President considered that the volume of trade exchange is not yet up to the aspirations of the two countries and their peoples, calling for investing the great opportunities available for both sides to further strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych later on  held a luncheon banquet in honor of President Bashar Al-Assad, attended by members of the Syrian and Ukrainian official delegations.

During the banquet, the two Presidents exchanged two cordial words stressing the importance of cementing and deepening the relations between Syria and Ukraine in all fields.

Presidents Al-Assad and Yanukovych pointed out to the work for opening new horizons for cooperation between the two countries and taking advantage of the potentials available to develop the economic and industrial cooperation and translating it on the ground to serve the two sides' interests as the Syrian-Ukrainian relationship is a complementary to the relationship between the two regions.

President Al-Assad noted that the historical experiences, mainly the experiences of this age, have proved that the power of states is not only the military and economic one, but the power of thought first, and this thought gives the vision to the policy particularly when it is based on the strength of the people.

The President said "this vision needs the political will to become a reality… and that is what we felt with President Yanukovich during our discussions with him today," expressing optimism over pushing the relations between the two countries forward.

For his part, the Ukrainian President said his country considers Syria as Ukraine's gate to the Middle East and the Arab world, adding that the two countries are enjoying all the capabilities to develop cooperation at all levels.