His Excellency President Bashar Assad blasted the idea of any war in the region and reiterated cling to peace as Syria and Arabs' strategic option. "We in Syria had never been for war neither had viewed in it, whether for us or others, any interest; we do speak of peace hence it is the desire,'' President Assad declared in a recent interview with the French ' Le Figaro'.

The president linked development to peace saying '' It was difficult to have genuine development in the region as a whole without reaching to peace; development itself could help the realization of peace. We should work for peace as to contribute to and as to push the process of development forward,''. "We are determined to follow up the process of development in Syria. As for the factor of time, it depends on existing capabilities of local means of development and of other means, we use through our friends,'' added the president. In reply to several questions to this effect, President Assad said that the process of development in Syria is to continue the process initiated by the builder of modern Syria, late president Hafez Assad, '' You develop things existed by your predecessor'' noting that this ongoing process in Syria does benefit by the enthusiasm of the youth and by the wisdom and direction of the old. "There are certain things realized in the country since coming to the presidency; however, there are other things which weren't realized as we did wish; at the same time, there are things realized better than what we expected,'' underlined the president. His Excellency touched upon all different aspects of the Syrian life asserting '' conditions in Syria go in a satisfactory form'' noting that several measures would be taken as to deter the reasons behind crimes commitment speaking of a continued determination to pursuer the march of the late president, who on different occasions set prisoners free.

The president spoke of the symposia held in the country saying '' these symposia are very old, tens of years old, and although of circumstances Syria passed through, the symposia were never cancelled or diminished." Some of the symposia were closed, some still operating," noting that the closed ones were infiltrated by the opportunists, '' who wanted to speak of corruption while they were the most corrupted, of democracy while they were its staunch enemies,'' clarified the president. President Assad underlined that his forthcoming visit to France came in line with ongoing process of reform and modernization in Syria in a bid to boost relations with France at all levels, the economic,

political and cultural. "What we desire from France was the essence of here civilization experience embodied through the principles of the French Revolution including those of justice, equality, and human rights,'' the president said answering a question regarding the visit. In reply to questions on Mitchell report, Tenet reports, President Assad said ' We draw lines between an action with terms of reference, and another with a personal initiative. The process of peace stemmed and was based on definite terms of reference which are the resolutions issued by the United Nations and the UN Security Council, and those of Madrid, in complementation form with the UN ones,''

The president cited some of the defects in Mitchell's report including the Israeli rejection to halt settlement building operations and their insistence that the Palestine Authority had to guarantee the Israeli security one hundred percent. "A simple example of unbalance in Mitchell report was when it stipulates that the Palestinians have to guarantee the Israeli security one hundred percent! I think there is no country in the world which says that it can guarantee its security one hundred percent." said His Excellency asking about the Israeli obligations regarding the guaranteeing of the Palestinian security. President Assad reiterated Syria and Arabs' cling to peace as the strategic option. "The Arab countries concerned with peace directly never let any advice, from a friendly country or another, but to take for the realization of peace; on the contrary, Israel left no stone unturned as to sabotage the process of peace," said the president asserting that the process of peace, more than 10-years old, have never started in a genuine and in a correct form. 

The President called for a genuine Israeli interest in peace as it is the case with Arabs saying '' Sharon, the Israeli Premier, proved to the world that Arabs have never for a single day stalemated the process of peace in the region. The Israeli society hasn't been mature for peace yet, neither has the culture of peace,'' said the President. In reply to a question, the President said '' the Palestinians are people like others, they pertain the right to self-determination the way they find appropriate. We have to support them as to regain their rights as long as they desire so,''. The president refuted the Israeli false claims that he attacked Judaism in his speech before the Pope asserting his deep respect, as a Moslem, to Judaism as a religion. "I spoke about principles governing heavenly religions and the necessity of implementing them especially in our region where I draw a comparison between the sufferings inflicted upon Jesus Christ and those on the Palestinians. I spoke of treason against peace recalling what Prophet Mohammad suffered from treason. The essence of what I said was about the human principles, the principles of justice and rejection of treason and torturing others,''' underlined His Excellency.

The president asserted the temporary nature of the Syrian presence in Lebanon saying ' The Syrian policy in Lebanon has never been that of interference, There are some loopholes or certain points to be improved in the Syrian-Lebanese relations. These loopholes are the responsibility of the Syrians as well as the Lebanese at the same time.

"The Syrian troops entered Lebanon in 1976 as to end the then civilian strife. Lebanon is Syria's underbelly geographically, if it weren't strong, it would damage Syria. Israel still occupies Lebanese territory and still considered a source of aggression for us as to occupy the more of the land,'' said the president asserting that the only legitimacy to speak of the nationality of the Chebba Farms was that of the international law. 

M. Abdo Al Ibrahim

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