PRESIDENT Bashar al-Assad stressed in Damascus that Syria is owned by the Syrians and that the peace is two things. First, fighting terrorists and terrorism, and stopping the flowing of every kind of logistical support.
• Do you think Belgium can play a role in Syria?
President Assad: Let me talk about the European political position in general; many in this region believe that the Europeans don’t exist politically, they only follow the master which is the Americans. So, the question should be about the Americans, and the Europeans will follow and will implement what the Americans want. They don’t exist as independent states, and Belgium is part of the EU.
• There is a new administration in Washington, with Trump in power. What do you expect from it? Are you looking to work closely together?
President Assad: What we heard as statements by Trump during the campaign and after the campaign is promising regarding the priority of fighting terrorists, and mainly ISIS, that’s what we’ve been asking for during the last six years. So, I think this is promising, we have to wait, it’s still early to expect anything practical. It could be about the cooperation between the US and Russia, that we think is going to be positive for the rest of the world, including Syria. So, as I said, it’s still early to judge it.
• If you look back on the last couple of years, are there any things that you regret?
President Assad: Every mistake could be a regret, by any individual, and as a human…
• Have you made mistakes?
President Assad: As a human, I have to make mistakes to be human. Otherwise, I’m not a human.
• What would you consider a mistake?
President Assad: A mistake is when you either take a wrong decision or make a wrong practice, it depends on the situation. But if you want to talk about the crisis, as I understand from the question, the three decisions that we took from the very beginning is to fight terrorism, and I think it’s correct, is to make dialogue between the Syrians, I think it’s correct, to respond to every political initiative, whether it’s genuine or not, and I think it’s correct, and actually we supported the reconciliation between the Syrians, and I think it’s correct. Anything else could be trivial, so you have a lot of things regarding the practice, regarding the institutions, you always have mistakes.
• If you look back, was this war avoidable?
President Assad: No, because there was bad intention regarding the different countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, France, UK, and the US in order to destabilise Syria, so it wasn’t about the Syrians. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have many flaws before the war and today as a country that allow many of those countries to mess with our country. I’m not excluding, I’m not saying it’s only about them, but they were the one who took the initiative in order to wage this war, so I don’t think it was avoidable.
• You have just had a visit from a Belgian parliamentary delegation with Mr. Dewinter and Mr. Carcaci, do you consider them as friends?
President Assad: The most important thing about those visits is not to be friends with them. As a politician, you don’t come to Syria to visit your friend; you come to Syria to see what’s going on.
• Do you see them as political allies?
President Assad: No, they’re not my allies at all. They are coming here not for that reason; they are here in order to see what’s going on. They are the allies of the Belgian people. They came here because the government, the Belgian government, like many European governments, are blind today, they have no relation with this country on every level, so they don’t see what’s going on, they cannot play any role.
So, now the only eyes that you have are the delegations that are coming from your country, and this is one of them, this is one of the eyes that your government could have, and you could have many other eyes and delegations coming to Syria. So, they’re not my allies, they’re not coming here for me; they’re coming here to see the situation, and I’m one of the players in the Syrian conflict, it’s natural to meet with me to hear what’s my point of view.
• Mr. President, just one more question: after the victories in Aleppo, Wadi Barada, your troops are close from al-Bab, do you think that all these major victories can change the mind of European governments concerning the Syrian government?
President Assad: I don’t know, I think they have to answer that question. For us, it’s our war, we need to liberate every single inch on the Syrian territory from those terrorists. If the European governments think that their efforts went in vain, that’s good, they may change their mind, and at least to stop supporting those terrorists that don’t have the support of the public in Syria; they only have the support of the Europeans and the Gulf states, the Wahabi Gulf states, in order to have more terrorism and extremism in Syria.
We hope, I think during the last two years, the whole world has changed, the United States has changed, the situation in Syria has changed, the situation in the region in general has changed. Two things didn’t change or hasn’t changed till this moment: first of all, Al Qaeda is still there through ISIS and al-Nusra, and the mentality of the European officials, it hasn’t changed yet, they live in the past.
• Mr. President, in your opinion, what is our right to question if after the war, the international court in the Hague should go over those responsible on the crimes against humanity against the Syrian people, do you support that view, that those responsible for war crimes should be judged by the international court in the Hague?
President Assad: We all know that the United Nations institutions are not unbiased, they are biased, because of the American influence and the French and British, mainly. So, most of those institutions, they don’t work to bring the stability to the world or to look for the truth; they are only politicised to implement the agenda of those countries. For me, as president, when I do my duty, the same for the government and for the army, to defend our country, we don’t look to this issue, we don’t care about it. We have to defend our country by every mean, and when we have to defend it by every mean, we don’t care about this court, or any other international institution.
• Yes. Do you accept the position of the United Nations?
President Assad: It depends on that position. Most of the positions are biased, as I said, regarding every organisation, regarding every sector, regarding most of the resolutions against Syria. That’s why it was for the first time maybe for Russia and China to take so many vetoes in so few years, because they know this reality. So, no, we don’t accept, we don’t accept.