(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - President Bashar al-Assad said in part 4 of an interview he gave to a Turkish daily that no matter how more intensified the sanctions could get Syria's stances will not change.
Journalist: As a result of the crisis in the relations between Syrian and Turkey, the Turkish government is trying, through loyal mass media, to exploit the PKK issue in order to incite the Turkish people against Syria and say that Syria is using the crisis between Syria and Turkey to support the PKK which escalated its military operations recently. It says that Syria has allowed the PKK to operate on Syrian territories close to Turkish borders.
President Assad: This is not true. Perhaps those thinking this way are used to treachery. They think that others are as treacherous as they are. As far as we are concerned, treachery is alien to us. But when you have turbulences in your country, your priorities become different. You focus on certain issues, and consequently you become unable to control things completely and certain groups could move more freely than they used to in normal situations. If we have become unable, in certain situations, to protect some Syrians, is it reasonable to hold us responsible for protecting the Turks? Is that logical? I think, if there is a security failure in Turkey now, then it is caused by the policies of the Turkish government. But it wants to blame others for this. As I said at the beginning of this interview, when I have a certain security failure, it will reflect on you, and vice versa. Even if we wanted to help you in these circumstances, it would be very difficult to offer real assistance because of the problems we are facing.
Journalist: What do you mean by “assistance” in this respect?
President Assad: I mean, if we wanted to assist you on the PKK issue or on any other issue, we wouldn’t have been able to do so because we have our own problems. In order to be able to protect you or assist you, I need to protect myself first. Is it reasonable that I protect you when I am not able to protect myself completely yet.
Journalist: But the other side is saying that they are asking for your assistance. They say that you are sending these people.
President Assad: First, where is the evidence? Second, the PKK has been fighting Turkey for decades; consequently, they don’t need us to send them to do this. When relations between us and Turkish military and security institutions were good, the PKK used to conduct operations. The only difference is that when you have a neighboring arena with chaos in it, movement becomes easier. This is self- evident.
Journalist: What is your perception for the Kurdish issue, from the regional perspective?
President Assad: There is no doubt that this is a complicated region characterized by great cultural diversity. Each cultural component needs to feel that they have a real and significant existence. This is a healthy and natural thing. The problem is that during the past decades there were those who have been exploiting these components for political objectives. They placed these components in opposition with the national interest. Now, we have to think that the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of the nation is a point of strength. But it is not allowed for these components to seek separation. On the other hand, the state should not feel that such components are agents of failure or fear. They should be agents of richness. These are general principles.
Journalist: On the medium or long term, do you see the possibility of creating a Kurdish state in the region?
President Assad: No, this amounts to separation. I said that no one accepts separation.
Journalist: Whether in Iraq or Syria?
President Assad: In such a case, there would be tens of states, not only a Kurdish state. Then, every sect, religion or nationality will seek an independent state. I don’t think that our nations feel that they have an interest in this division. We have lived with each other for thousands of years in this region, and there were no problems. These problems evolved recently after colonial powers started interfering, from Lawrence of Arabia up till now. If we develop a full consciousness that we must live with each other, the borders drawn by colonial powers will diminish; and maybe in larger countries, such borders will no longer be important. Now we live in our existing states. Maybe, in the future we’ll unite in larger countries, countries which embrace all these cultures on an equal basis.
Journalist: As a result of the crisis existing between the two countries, movement has stopped completely on the Syrian-Turkish borders; and people on both sides of the borders are suffering from economic, social and psychological crises. What is your opinion of this?
President Assad: This is true, because these borders have turned into venues for smuggling weapons and terrorists to Syria. We talked for years about turning these borders into frontiers of development. But development and terrorism can never meet.
Journalist: There have been numerous decisions imposing sanctions on Syria, powerful decisions which have had a real impact on the Syrian street. Until when can you stand fast in the face of these decisions which have started to make a negative and dangerous impact on Syrians?
President Assad: As long as we have rights, as long as we have dignity and as long as we are patriots, these sanctions will never change our positions no matter how powerful they are. The question is not that of selling our principles for money, food or foreign aid. Otherwise, we should justify the position of everyone who sold his honor for money. This is absolutely unacceptable for us in Syria from the perspective of principles and moral values.