President al-Assad to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Daily: With our Determination, Strength and Solidarity, We Can Rebu
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily, reiterated that Syria's main priority now is fighting terrorism, and stresses upon being open to political solutions to solve the crisis away from extremism and bloodshed.
"We are confident that we can successfully fight terrorism in Syria, but the bigger issue is the ensuing damage and its cost. The crisis has already had a heavy toll but our biggest challenges will come once the crisis is over," Assad said.
"It may take a long time, but with our determination, our strength and our solidarity, we can rebuild the country," the President stressed, adding, "It will not be easy to eliminate the social effects of the crisis, especially extremist ideologies. Real reconstruction is about developing minds, ideologies and values."
Asked whether Assad considered Syria a secular state, he answered, "Many people understand secularism as synonymous with communism in the past, in that it is against religion. For us in Syria secularism is about the freedom of confession including Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Secularism is crucial to our national unity and sense of belonging."
"We are a secular state that essentially treats its citizens equally, irrespective of religion, sect or ethnicity. All our citizens enjoy equal opportunities regardless of religious belief," he remarked.
As to the file of possible intervention, President Bashar Assad said, "We can see clearly that what is happening in Iraq now, and in Lebanon previously, are repercussions of the situation in Syria, and this will only extend further and further. We are seeing these ramifications and the intervention is still indirect, so imagine the consequences of military intervention?"
As for countries that are willing and arm the rebels in Syria, he said, "The countries have adopted policies that meddle in Syria's internal affairs, which is a flagrant violation of international law and our national sovereignty."
Regarding al-Nusra Front, the President said, "Al-Nusra Front claim to be applying Sharia Law and the Islamic Religion; however, in reality their actions are a complete distortion of the real religion of Islam."
Moreover, when asked about the hesitation of the EU in arming the rebels, President Assad viewed, "They are aware that weapons sent to the region will end up in the hands of terrorists, which will have two consequences. First, Europe's back garden will become a hub for terrorism and chaos, which leads to deprivation and poverty. Second, terrorism will not stop here - it will spread to your countries."
"Any individual or group excluding the army and police who carries arms, kills people, threatens and intimidates public safety are by definition terrorists," he added.
Regarding to Hizbullah and defending its borders from terrorist groups, the Syrian President commented, "The aim of this frenzy is to reflect an image of Hizbullah as the main fighting force and to provoke Western and International public opinion against Hizbullah."
"The Syrian Army is a large army capable of accomplishing its missions across Syria, with the support of the local communities. Damascus is certainly more important than the town of al-Quseir [retrieved by the Syrian Army]," he added.
As to the alleged use of chemical weapons, Assad said, "It is counterintuitive to use chemical weapons to create a death toll that you could potentially reach by using conventional weapons," adding, "Had they obtained a single strand of evidence that we had used chemical weapons, do you not think they would have made a song and dance about it to the whole world? then where is the chain of custody that led them to a such result?"
Regarding reforms, the President viewed, "We started the reforms and issued a number of new legislations, lifted the emergency law and even changed the constitution through a referendum. Yet what the West refuses to see is that from the first weeks of the protests we had policemen killed. Could the chants of protesters actually kill a policeman?"
As to dialogue, Assad said, "From day one we have extended a hand to all those who believe in dialogue. Opposition is a political act, and so when we refer to the opposition, we mean the politicians to whom we are always committed to dialogue, regardless of what happened in Al-Qseir."
"Democracy, as we see it in Syria, is not an objective in itself, but rather a means to an end - to stability and to prosperity," Assad stated.
Source: News Agencies, edited by website team