"I have discussed with President Abdullah Gül the new international situation and the relative détente of the international situation, and how to use this détente for pushing the process of peace in the region forward. The Syrian stance is declared and clear, and the brothers in Turkey know the details of this stance. Syria is committed to the peace as much as it is committed to the occupied Syrian Territories, the Golan," said His Excellency President Bashar Al-Assad in a joint press conference with His Turkish Counterpart, H. E. Abdullah Gül, at the end of the talks in Damascus, May 15, 2009. 

"The Palestinian reconciliation is the essence for whatever would be solution in the region. Without the unity of the Palestinians, and without the unity of the Palestinian stance, there would never be a peace on the Palestinian track, neither a two-state solution, nor restoration of a land, nor a return for refugees. If the peace was not to be achieved on the Palestinian track, other tracks would remain incomplete, even peace agreements were to be signed on other tracks, including the Syrian one. So, we have ever reiterated the necessity for the comprehensive peace, tracks concomitance, or coordination; so that we would achieve peace and not only sign peace agreement; hence the peace agreement is but the first step towards the peace, and not the final one, as some believe. The steps which follow the first step are linked to the concomitance or coordination among the tracks of peace." 

"Turkey has played an objective, just and professional role in the indirect peace negotiations between Syria and Israel. The Turkish role has made of Turkey a main player in Mideast Peace Process. Of course, in the future, once there would be a partner, Turkey is the inalienable player. All of this has given a very special aspect for the relation between Syria and Turkey," underlined H. E. President Al-Assad. 

"The Iraqi people have proved during more than a juncture that they indeed work for keeping Iraq united. With this in mind, we have held discussions on how to support the Iraqi Government in their efforts for the realization of national reconciliation in Iraq reaching to the withdrawal of the last occupation soldier from Iraq." declared His Excellency President Al-Assad. 

"The Syrian-Turkish cooperation as far as the big and important files has indeed begun in January 2003, when President Abdullah Gül, visited us for the first time as the then Prime Minster. These visits have been continued and so has the cooperation. President Gül visit came within the natural course of the Syrian Turkish cooperation. The visit of President Abdullah Gül to Syria is important in its content and timing as an opportunity to discuss bilateral, regional as well as international causes," declared H. E. President Al-Assad.

 

"We have succeeded to make the Syrian Turkish relations as distinguished; notwithstanding the difficult years as far as the conditions in the Middle East, which were not in the interest of many countries of the region, including Syria and Turkey. The Syrian-Turkish relations have been constructed across centuries of common living, which led to common social and cultural concepts. This relation goes on and on, based on sincerity, frankness, as well as on joint interests" added H. E. President Al-Assad, highly lauding Turkey’s stance in support of Gaza and against the invasion of Iraq, rejecting to permit the use of its territories and air space for launching aggression against an independent country; saying " many would never forget what happened- during the Israeli massacres against Gaza- and would neither forget who stood with Gaza; we would not forget who stood against Gaza; consequently, we would never ever forget the honorable stance of the Turkish Government, and People, regarding what happened in Gaza, through their stance against the aggression and their stand by the Palestinian People." 

"I have discussed with President Gül the standing bilateral cooperation, which has, relatively, passed good phases; where the bulk of trade exchange between Syria and Turkey reached to about 2 billion dollar," said H. E. president Al-Assad; asserting the need for redoubling this trade bulk as far as the strategic projects which would realize economic integration between them, taking into consideration their distinguished integrated strategic positions. 

“Thanks to our close cooperation, we have been able to stand in the face of several bids aiming as to create a gap among our stances, including the pressures put on Turkey as to participate in the bids against the stability in Syria isolating it during the few past years. We have succeeded to give a bigger push forward to our relations and our stances have been closer when many in this world succumbed to those pressures. This happened because we were aware that once each of us was well, the other would so be considering geography, history, interests, emotions and others. With this in mind, a great confidence was built between us, creating  the basic introduction to make of Turkey the sole country, who was able to play a very important role in the re-launching of peace process last year, which made many in the world wonder about the secret of success where others failed ,” added His Excellency President Al-Assad in a word during a dinner banquet in honor of Syria’s grand guests, H.E. President Abdullah Gül of Turkey, his wife and the Turkish accompanying delegation.

 “We are the owners of this region and are more able to solve its problems instead of waiting for others to do that. We can never be at ease as far as the future as long as the Iraqi Cause, and the occupied territories of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, remained without solution. When other countries outside the Middle East have begun to feel the danger of these causes against them, we ourselves have to feel a bigger danger surrounding us. Thus, standing by Iraq as to get recovered is vital through the support for the process of reconciliation, which forms the basis for the Iraqi Territories unity leading to the withdrawal of the last foreign soldier from Iraq. In relation to our stance regarding the peace, our commitment to the peace is as firm as our commitment to the return of our occupied territories in full. Turkey is a key player, not to be surpassed, in whatever might be launched process of peace, when there would be the partner, whom we do not see this moment. Our commitment to the Golan is closely linked to our stance by the full return of the Palestinian rights and territories, including Jerusalem and the return of the refugees to their homeland.” underlined His Excellency President Al-Assad.

 

“We have to profit by the characteristics of Syria and Turkey: we are two important countries from the strategic point, with a big political role. It is right that economy supports politics; it is further right that the politics brings the economy, especially when the stability, with its security and social meanings, exists; this is available for us and for Turkey. Syria and Turkey are an important passage for Asia, Europe, and for the Arab World in the fields of transport, energy, and in other different fields.  And we have to use this issue as to achieve integration. The integration does not mean the absence of competition; the competition would remain. The big title is, however, the integration between the Syrian position and the Turkish position; that is to expand this space,” said His Excellency President Al-Assad in a speech delivered at the Syrian-Turkish Business Forum, May 16, 2009.

 “The first thing to do is to translate our signed Memorandum of Understandings into Accords, when the free-trade agreement would yield the required results. The cooperation exists between Turkey and Iraq; there is the beginning of relation development between Turkey and Syria and between Turkey and Iran. There is a new relation being developed between Syria and Iraq; and there is a strong elation too between Syria and Iran.  Once the economic space among Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran gets integrated, we would link among the Mediterranean, Caspian, Black Sea, and Gulf. The most remarkable accomplishment of the Syrian Premier recent visit to Iraq was the link between Um Qasser Port in Iraq on the Gulf and the Syrian ports, being the shortest distance between the Mediterranean and the Gulf. Further, we have railways towards Iraq, which were enhanced at the beginning of this decade; thus, we could be integrated in this field, once we link the said four seas, and become thus the obligatory crossing points for this world, as far as investment, transport and other things” declared His Excellency President Al-Assad. 

Edited & Translated by

Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

Rome, Italy, May 15-16, 2009.