President Assad’s interview with the Russian NTV Channel on June 24, 2016.
[…] Journalist: What do you expect from Russia in this case? Because you have so many players whom you told should all leave Syria, you told that the Syrian nation one day will ask everybody to leave this ground. What do you expect Russia in this case? Because we are allies, we are friends.
President Assad: Friendship is a long-term issue between Syria and Russia, for six decades, but we signed the military treaty for more than four decades. So, we have two expectations: the first one, Syria and Russia have an interest in fighting and defeating terrorism, in Syria, in Russia, anywhere in the world. So, this is the first expectation and goal.
The second one is the long-term one. Russia is very important for the global balance that we’ve lost since the collapse of the Soviet Union. So, having Russia being here militarily and politically, in Syria and in the Middle East and in the rest of the world is very important for the balance. It’s not only important for Russia itself and for the other great powers; it’s very important for smaller countries like Syria to have this balance. So, that’s what we expect from Russia on both levels: fighting terrorism and having global balance.
Journalist: I’ve been to Eastern Ghouta and I’ve seen how strongly it’s destroyed, how hard it’s destroyed, and as far as I know, you need 400 billion Dollars to rebuild the country, but the West tells that they will not give a dime while you are in power. What can you do in this situation, because you have to rebuild the whole country?
President Assad: Frankly, this is the best Western statement during the war, that they won’t be part of reconstruction in Syria, because very simply we won’t allow them to be part of it, whether they come with money or not, whether they came with a loan, or with a donation, with a grant, whatever; we don’t need the West. The West is not honest at all, they don’t give, they only take. First of all, we didn’t build Syria through history by foreign money; we built it with our money, with our human resources. We still – in spite of the war – we still have the human resources to rebuild every sector in our country. We’re not worried about that.
Regarding the money, before the war we didn’t have any debt, because we built our country with some loans from our friends. So, we don’t have money. You can have loans from your friends, you can have money from Syrians living abroad, Syrians living inside, and the money of the government. So, we’re not worried about that. It may take a longer time, but we’re not worried at all about rebuilding Syria. Don’t forget that reconstruction after the war, when you talk about 400 billion, less or more – this is approximate – is a whole economy, it’s a whole market, it’s a whole investment. So, the Europeans talking about coming for reconstruction, they’re not coming to help Syria; they’re coming to get money. And many European companies now are making contacts with us to open the door for them to come and invest in Syria.
Journalist: This is in private?
President Assad: In private, of course. But of course, with the support of their governments. So, they need this market, they are in a very dire situation economically since 2008, most of the European countries. They need many markets, Syria is one of them, and we are not going to allow them to be part of this market, very simply.
Journalist: When we’re talking about the restoration of the whole country, it means the restoration of trust and friendship between people, because we can see this partly as a civil war when the brother shoots the brother, because of the different religious or any other views. In this case, you start with constitutional committee. The opposition made their list for constitutional committee. Will you run for the next presidential term, or how to restore this political structure of your country?
President Assad: First of all, we don’t have a civil war, because civil war should be based on sectarian lines, ethnical lines, religious lines, and so on. We don’t have that in Syria. You can go everywhere, especially in the areas under the control of the government where you can see the full spectrum of the rich Syrian societies existing and people living together. Actually – and this is not exaggeration, this is fact – the war was a very important lesson. So, this diverse society is becoming much more unified than before the war, because we learned the lesson. While if you go to the areas under the control of the terrorists, they don’t represent one color of this society, actually they only reflect their incubator and the people who don’t have any other choice but to live in those areas, they don’t have any other choice. So, we don’t have to worry about the civil war. So, it’s not people shooting each other; these are mercenaries, these are terrorists. You have terrorists in your country, in Russia, and they are Russian, but they don’t represent part of the society, they represent their own ideology. So, the same situation in Syria. So, regarding the unification of the people, we don’t have a problem with that.
Regarding the presidency, it has two factors: the first one, my will, and my will be based on the second factor which is the will of the Syrian people. We still have three years’ time. At that time, in 2021, will the Syrian people be ready to accept that person, that president, or not? If no, what do I get with the presidency? I cannot do anything, I cannot succeed, I cannot give my country anything, so the answer will be no. If yes, in that time, I’m going to think about it, but it’s still early, we still have three years till that time.
Journalist: But what about all these constitutional reforms which were asked by the United Nations?
President Assad: We made reforms in 2012, and now we have the Sochi conference, they’re going to discuss it. Any constitutional reform, it’s not related to the president, it’s not related to the government; it’s related to the Syrian people, so there must be – if we’re going to go in any kind of amendment or change or whatever – it’s going to be through referendum, national referendum. If there’s a national referendum and the people will support a new constitution, of course we’re going to do it, but this is not related to the will of the United Nations or to the foreign countries, it’s not. This is going to be fully Syrian. If the Syrians don’t want any change, there will be no change whatsoever. […]