DAMASCUS, June. 21-2004
President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday gave a press interview to the Chinese People daily .
On Syrian-Chinese relations and future prospects and on topics to be discussed during the forthcoming visit, the President said any visit certainly helps push bilateral ties forward, especially when these ties are historic and date back to about 50 years ago.
President al-Assad pointed out that the bilateral relations, have passed through several substantial stages which strengthened ties between the two countries as Syria supported China’s national causes and China backed Syria and the Arabs in general. Such mutual support has continued till now and common stances towards such causes have not changed, this thing gives a strong foundation for any future relations between Syrian and China.
The President went on to say the visit is historic not because it is the first by a Syrian President but because it is paid on the basis of such strong foundation.
" China is now a superpower and is very important after the absence of the Soviet Union. China’ s role has expanded across the world and has become more important especially for small countries including Syria. China now is a key element in international affairs. It is very important for several pressing issues and for the Middle East region, for the ME peace process, for Iraq and for terrorism combating." The President said .
"As a great power, China tries to expand ties with world states and to consolidate relations with friendly ones. And as we are one of these important states in the region, the visit is significant."
Regarding topics to be discussed during the visit, the President said: "We will discuss with the Chinese leadership the troubled political conditions in the region as well as economic and tourism issues especially when both countries are ancient ones and have common characteristics of culture."
" Prospects of future relations are wide as China has achieved an advanced development and Syria is now seeking development. China’s experiences in development are leading ones and can be availed of by Syria."
" During the visit, I will tour a number of economic and technological sites, and we will make use of the Chinese experience."
" In the political sphere, there is an already standing cooperation which we can develop to a great extent particularly that the current issues which are fundamental to the world are also of interest to China as I just said, and to Iraq and peace. Peace has been suspended, but Iraq is an essential issue as far as China is concerned. The issue of terrorism may come in the second place. China is interested in these issues and also in peace.
May 13, 2004
President al-Assad said "As a small country, we were considering the United States as a country that encourages stability in spite of the differences."
On the repercussions of the occupation of Iraq on the region, the president said:" The United States has become a source of instability for the first time. "It is the chaos in Iraq. There are weapons being smuggled into Syria, and also the growing extremism and a feeling of hatred against the United States that have never existed before."
On the issue of terrorism, H. Excellency said "Terrorism should be directly linked with Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine, indicating that the war in Afghanistan and then in Iraq "has aroused hatred" that may feed "any terrorism." Calling for tackling the reasons in Iraq and in Palestine.
On Israel’s Assassination Policy
President Bashar al-Assad indicated that there is no difference between the assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, and that of Dr.Abdul-Aziz Rantisi on the one hand and the massacres of Sabra and Shatilla on the other since the massacres were perpetrated by the same person irrespective of the time difference.
“Surely, there is no difference between the massacres committed before /1948/ and the ones perpetrated after/1948/.”
The president said that the massacres are an on going state , and nothing new for the part of the Israel which has been expressing itself accordingly.
“Israel is expressing itself by words. It doesn’t talk about the freedom of speech but about the freedom of killing. This is democracy for Israel and they say Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East. Such saying is true from the perspective of killing which is free for Israel that practices the freedom of killing and nothing else. What is strange is to remain surprised in every case. The important question is what is your role?
If we want to hold Israel responsible for greater part, the U.S. for the lesser part and the European states and other superpowers for another part, then should we hold ourselves responsible for what is taking place? I am afraid to say that our responsibility lies in silence, in ineffectiveness , in not tackling the accumulations , in preoccupation with marginal issues at the expense of essential ones, in the non-availability of one political course and in the non-existence of cooperation. There are countless factors of our responsibility.”
His Excellency President Bashar Hafez Al-Assad has stressed that Syria’s rights have not changed, and peace must be just and comprehensive. "The late President Hafez al-Assad did not surrender and we will not surrender neither today nor at any time in the future," he said in an interview with the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Replying a question whether Syria will sign a treaty if it is presented by Israel before the Palestinians sign, the president said:’ we in Syria say that the objective is a just and comprehensive peace." " Comprehensive means all occupied Arab territories… The Golan and Lebanon do not mean a comprehensive peace. Therefore there should be parallelism between the Syrian-Lebanese track and the Palestinian track," the President added.
Whether Syria is ready to sign an agreement that does not solve the problem, the resident said signing of Syria would not mean solving the issue and achieving peace. "We start off a national perspective," he explained. " What about four million Palestinian refugees scattered in several countries? What about the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank? after ten years, they have not got anything related to rights or sovereignty…therefore, we have to look from national perspective…and from here the word ‘comprehensive’ has emerged," the president said. " We stress on the need for cooperation with brothers and on the coordination with other tracks," he added. The president stressed that Syria will not sign any agreement that runs counter to her principles. " We say just and comprehensive peace," he confirmed. " We will not sign an agreement unless we see it serves the region and real peace…if the agreement is not for just and comprehensive peace, that peace will be fragile and provisional. On Palestinian refugees and whether Syria would accept settling them on the Syrian territories, President Assad said: " we start off from a national perspective and could not refuse any Arab on the Syrian territory… This is an Arab starting point.. We are with any decision the Palestinians in Syria may adopt...But however we did not hear from any Palestinian that he does not want to go back to his home land," the president continued. He was asked whether he expects a Palestinian-Israeli agreement soon. " We don’t build up on speculations... the Intifada has created a new way of thinking… peace talks have completely stalled and the Israelis are still far from real peace…what is the problem? What is the difference between the Syrian and Israeli positions?" he asked. "The principle of land-for-peace…. This principle is not clear or unacceptable to them. Their positions on eastern part of Tiberias Lake are still as they were. We refuse to negotiate any object unless there is an agreement on the basic principle," he said. On how Syria will deal with the Israeli Prime Minister-elect, the president said: " We will say to all those that are our conditions for peace… Whoever can implement them, we are ready to continue negotiating... We deal with realities not speculations."