16 March، 2023
President Bashar al-Assad stressed that his visit to Moscow and his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin will pave the way for new phase of the relations between the two countries.
President al-Assad added in an interview with Russian Sputnik news agency on Thursday that the two sides agreed on implementation of 40 investment projects, in addition to setting a joint Syrian-Russian vision for dealing with the upcoming stage in light of the change of alliances in the world.
President al-Assad said that “his Excellency’s meeting with Turkish President is connected with reaching a stage in which Turkey becomes ready, clearly and without any confusion, to completely leave the Syrian territories, stop supporting terrorism and restore the situation to what it was before the start of the war in Syria.”
Following is the full text of the interview:
Question: Mr. President, thank you very much for meeting us, after the important talks with President Putin… You were accompanied by a large delegation that came from Syria to Moscow. These are very important negotiations. Tell us what are the main outcomes of your meetings and what is new in the Russian-Syrian relations?
President al-Assad: During the past years, during the years of the war waged on Syria, meetings with President Putin have always touched on important files. We can say that all visits were important, but this visit was characterized by something more important from two aspects: the first aspect is the political aspect, as it is the first meeting between me and President Putin after the start of the Ukrainian war, and perhaps after the end of the Coronavirus crisis, because Coronavirus and the Ukrainian war are the things that have affected the overall general situation in the world.
Now we see that the alliances in the world have changed, and the alignments in the world have changed, and it was necessary to hold a discussion, to analyze this situation in order to develop a joint Syrian-Russian vision, in which we determine how to deal with this next stage on the one hand, and on the other hand, the joint committees have met several times between the two Russian the Syrian parties, but the results were not up to the level of ambitions. There is trade exchange and development, but it is still weak.
President al-Assad added: This time the meeting of the joint committee focused on specific topics, specifically on investment projects, and even the agreement that will be signed is directed towards 40 specific investment projects in the fields of energy, i.e. electricity and oil, in the field of transportation, in the field of housing, in the industrial fields, in many other different fields, but with precisely defined projects, and also mechanisms have been added to them to follow up and make these projects successful. So from an economic point of view, it is a new progress in the relations, so as you said at the beginning, the delegation was a large delegation because work on this agreement took years, not months, but intensified work has been in recent months.
The second point is the global transformations, but for us in Syria, we are primarily concerned with the Turkish issue, and the negotiations with the Turkish side, given that Turkey is part of the war in Syria and has forces occupying our lands.
Question: If we could talk about trade and economic cooperation, would it be possible to specify the sums that were agreed upon within the agreement?
President al-Assad: Currently, the projects have been studied, and the agreement will be signed within weeks, but this point was left to each project and each company separately, as each project will be evaluated separately later. This is part of the mechanism for following up the projects and making them succeed, but it comes later. The idea was more the objectives of the agreement than what are the figures currently.
Question:Nowadays, we are saddened and we support the Syrian people who have suffered due to the devastating earthquake. Russia has provided assistance, and our agency “Sputnik” made a contribution and collected 25 tons of humanitarian aid and delivered it to the Children’s Hospital in Hama. Was additional assistance discussed during your meeting with President Putin and during delegations’ meeting to help overcome the repercussions of the earthquake?
President al-Assad: In fact, this issue was not the essence of the talks today. I conveyed my thanks to President Putin and the Russian government for their assistance, because the Russian government rushed from the first hours to help Syria, and the Russian army participated in the rescue operations, and this aid is still continuing, but there is another side of the support related to the earthquake, which is related to the reconstruction and return of the displaced to their homes. Before we ask for assistance from any party with this vital issue for the next stage, we must put in Syria mechanisms and structures for the reconstruction process, and this is what we are doing. You can request from countries to contribute with us in the process of reconstruction and the return of the displaced to their original homes or to other places of residence.
Question: These days mark 20 years since the United States launched an attack on Iraq in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, and since then there have been aggressive actions all over the world that have left many victims. People are dying in Syria, and people are currently dying in Donbass. All this is because of the hostile policy of the United States and its allies, how can this be put to an end?
President al-Assad: You need several axes in parallel in order to reach this result. The US remains a power, even if it is moving downhill, but we cannot say that there is any other state that can stop American aggression, which has been lasting for at least three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union or even since the Korean War. However, there are different methods.
First, if we If we speak about political actions, a coalition between a number of countries is necessary. Russia and China have significant responsibilities in this regard, and there are BRICS countries, and there are other countries that started moving away from the United States, and have begun to distance themselves from the US and lose faith in it, and they feel that the United States is a threat to world stability, and when we say the United States, this means with it the Western bloc in political terms, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the US fleets in the world are all there to serve one thing, all the wars that it wages are for one thing which is the US dollar, and therefore when there is an economic alliance, there will be an alternative to the dollar, for any country which wants that, then the United States will not be able to control the fate of the economy of countries and peoples, and then there will be an end to these wars.
So, we are talking about a political, economic, monetary issue, there are the BRICS countries, as I said, which are part of this alliance, and the international public awareness is gradually being formed, and therefore, over a period of time, the US that is about to besiege the world will become besieged, and will become isolated, and this country that wants to conquer the world will not be able and will not have the benefits of conquest, and then the situation of the world will change.
Question: You referred to the special military operation and that it was the first meeting between you and President Putin after the special operation, and you expressed your support for the measures taken by Russia. Please tell us how this support can be? And if Syrian citizens will go to volunteer on the side of Russia in the special military operation? How many will they be?
President Assad: If volunteers go, they will not go through the Syrian state, but rather they will go directly to communicate with the Russian parties concerned with this issue, and we will not know about this, but certainly there is great enthusiasm in favor of Russia, among the Syrian people for various reasons, on one hand it is a kind of loyalty because Russia stood with the Syrian people against terrorism, and on the other hand there is a more global view of this war that this war will begin to change the international equilibrium, because part of the suffering of Syria and the suffering of Iraq and the suffering of many other countries is caused by the unipolarity, so when Russia wins in this war as most Syrians wish there must be a new, safer and more secure world. This is the actual effect of this war on the Syrians’ view of it.
Question: If we talk about political support, does Syria recognize the new regions that joined Russia and the new borders of Russia?
President al-Assad: We recognized these areas before they were annexed to Russia, when there was a referendum and independence was declared, so we recognized them, and even before this independence took place, I received a delegation from Donbass several months before the war, and I told them we are ready to recognize them from now, and later I told them that we recognized them even before Russia did, so this issue for us was clear from the beginning, and we do not hesitate in our positions.
Syria’s positions are clear and at the same time decisive, and we have conviction about this issue, not only for the sake of friendship with Russia, but also because these lands are Russian lands, and this thing have been known throughout history, and they were transferred to Ukraine perhaps about 100 years ago, I think during the days of Lenin, and there are Russian citizens there. There are facts on the ground indicating that it is Russian territory, and we are convinced of this position.
Question: Will Syria recognize the new borders of Russia?
President al-Assad: Of course, I say it is Russian territory, and even if the war did not take place, it is historically a Russian territory.
Question: If we talk about the global repercussions of this conflict, many say that it may lead to the outbreak of a third world war, what do you think?
President al-Assad: I think that the World War III exists, but the form has changed. That means, in the past, the world war was a conventional war, armies from several countries working against several other countries. Now this situation exists, but because of advanced weapons, especially nuclear weapons, there is a deterrent force from conventional war, so wars go towards proxy wars, that is why Zelensky is today carrying out the war on behalf of the West, of course, with his army of the Nazis. Similarly, the terrorists are armies acting on behalf of the West in Syria and in other regions.
Question: Mr. President, could you confirm to us what was published by the Syrian News Agency “SANA” about that the US is continuing to train terrorists in its bases that are illegally located in Syrian territory, such as al-Tanf?
President al-Assad: We are in a direct confrontation with the terrorist groups that are positioned in the vicinity of al-Tanf area, and of course we know through these confrontations and from the people who are arrested where they came from. Al-Tanf is a whole camp of terrorists and has no other purpose. What does the US benefit from its presence in this region in the heart of the desert ?
There is no doubt that it has terrorist camps with tens of thousands of people with their families, and sends these people from time to time to carry out attacks against the Syrian army with the aim of dispersing the Syrian formations in different directions. We are sure of this and the evidence is on the ground.
Question: Is there any information on transferring gunmen from al-Tanf to Ukraine?
President al-Assad: We have no evidence in this regard, but it is expected. The US is transferring terrorists from a place to another, in addition the terrorists move normally, but the terrorists exist in Syria are of the so-called (the Islamic terrorists), of course those who cover with religion. There is no religious war in Ukraine, and they are existed according to videos circulated on the internet, they didn’t go for the sake of a cause of Jihad, so absolutely, there is who took those terrorists and definitely, it was done under the supervision of the US and its agents of the Western countries. This is the traditional thing which continuously happens and it has no relation neither with Syria nor with Ukraine. It is connected with the mechanism of the work of the US and the Western countries in regard with using terrorism as an agent for them in their wars. It is natural that there are terrorists who are transferred from other areas, including Syria, to fight Russia in Ukraine.
Question: There is a major problem represents in the possibility that weapons sent by the West to Ukraine, in unlimited quantities, may fall in the hands of international terrorists, including the Middle East and Syria, which are a lot of weapons, and may even be anti-aircraft. Do you have any concerns that unlimited military support to Ukraine may reach the Middle East and do you have assurances in this regard?
President al-Assad: We have no concern for a simple reason, because the weapon which will come directly from the west for those terrorist groups is larger than what is going to be leaked, this weapon will come, anyway. The US always looks for terrorist to recruit and supply them with all kinds of weapons. But if there is corruption, selling or leaking of weapons, it happens but it will equal a small percentage of what will come directly from the US to those terrorist groups. Of course it is the same that happened in Syria, France, for example, sent the most sophisticated anti-tank missiles systems for the terrorists, surely under the instruction of the US, the US provided sophisticated and developed anti-air-crafts missiles and the satellites are all under the service of terrorists, so what does it mean that few weapons leak? nothing, everything is available to them, they are the alternative army of the regular army of the US and for the rest of the countries that are participating in the NATO , this is the fact.
Question: This may entail expanding the military cooperation between Russia and Syria. Was this matter discussed as well? Will this cooperation be expanded by increasing the number of Russian military bases in Syria, for instance?
President al- Assad: Of course, military cooperation was discussed today. There was a meeting between the two defense ministers. We do not usually announce what kind of cooperation we will have with Russia, because this is a military issue that always has a kind of secrecy, this is a natural thing. As for the military bases, this returns to a common vision that has both a political and a military sides.
From the military point of view, this issue was not discussed, but from the political point of view, the view regarding the military bases should not be linked to the issue of combating terrorism. Combating terrorism is a standing issue, but it will be temporary, and the Russian military presence in any country cannot be built on something temporary.
We are talking about an international equilibrium, and Russia’s presence in Syria is of importance linked to the balance of power in the world as a country located on the Mediterranean Sea.
Today, the superpowers cannot protect themselves or play their role from within their borders. They must play this role from outside the borders, through allies all over the world or through bases, so we assume that if there is a Russian desire to expand the bases, or increase their numbers, and this is a technical or logistical issue, if there is such a desire, then it is within this framework, and we believe that expanding the Russian presence in Syria is a good thing that serves this idea, and if this expansion will be in other countries, perhaps in other regions, it will also serve the same idea, so yes we say that this is something that might be necessary in the future.
Question: If we talk about hypersonic weapons, do you think that they can be deployed in Syria through Russian ships carrying Zircon missiles, for example?
President al-Assad: There is a difference in the quality of weapons, but the principle is the same. Of course, if you are going to build bases, the goal is not that the bases be weak from a military point of view. The bases are supposed to be to be supplied with the best weapons in order to have a deterrent or balancing effect. This is the natural and logical thing, whether the weapons are hypersonic missiles or any other more advanced weapons now and in the future for sure the principle is the same as I said.
Question: Has the supply of other air defense systems to Syria been discussed, especially since there is an increase in air strikes on Syrian territory now? Will there be S-400s or other shorter-range air defense systems?
President al-Assad: As I said, there was a meeting today between the two defense ministers, in which they discussed all the military aspects, but we cannot announce what specialized military issues were discussed, especially with regard to the issue of weapons.
Question: Let’s talk about the economic issues that were discussed during your meetings. You already said that the meetings touched on developing economic cooperation. What companies will be able to work in Syria now after expanding this cooperation?
President al-Assad: Today, the required titles were presented, which are the titles of the projects, which have been discussed through the joint committee during the past days.
After the agreement is signed, these projects will be announced, and then the willing companies can apply for these projects. This is the dynamic in which this agreement will operate, as for the names of the companies, and the estimated value of the projects, the actual value, will be known later when the companies apply, and negotiations are being held with them about those projects.
Question: You mentioned that the relationship with Turkey is an important issue for you. How does Moscow help Syria and Turkey today to normalize relations between them? Is it possible to hold a meeting between you and President Erdogan?
President al-Assad: Because of the war and Turkey’s negative role in this war and Turkey’s support for terrorists in Syria, and because part of the Turkish army entered the Syrian territories, it was not possible to make direct contacts between us and the Turkish side. For us, Turkey is an occupying country. And here lies the Russian role, or here lies the importance of the Russian role, given that they have a relationship with the Turkish side and a good relationship with the Syrian side.
We trust the Russian side, so they played the role of mediator to facilitate these contacts, but within the foundations on which the Russian policy is based, which are the respect for international law, the respect for the sovereignty of states, the renunciation of terrorism, the unity of Syrian lands, the sovereignty of the Syrian state over its lands, and the withdrawal of illegal foreign forces from Syrian lands within these principles.
For us, we must strive towards trying anything that can change the course of the war towards ending it along with the restoration of all Syrian rights, the restoration of the occupied territories, and the restoration of the full sovereignty of the Syrian state, and we may sometimes have little hope that there will be real results, but we must not let any opportunity pass us by without trying it, because this opportunity may, though with very little hope, be the solution. This is what Russia is working on in cooperation with Syria, in addition to other attempts. As you know, there are dialogues in Geneva, Astana and others, all of which have the same goal, which is restoring stability in Syria.
As for the meeting with President Erdogan, this is related to reaching a stage in which Turkey is ready, clearly and without any ambiguity, to completely withdraw from Syrian territory, stop supporting terrorism and restore the situation to what it was before the start of the war in Syria.
This is the only case in which there can be a meeting between me and Erdogan. Apart from that, what is the value of this meeting and why should we do it if it will not achieve final results regarding the war in Syria?