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F.A.Z.-Interview with Bashar al-Assad : „Europe’s backyard would become a terrorist haven“

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With any oppositional group that does not carry weapons, does not condone terrorism and has a political agenda. The opposition must prove itself in elections, that is, in local elections and - most importantly - in parliamentary elections. We are facing forces that call themselves the opposition. We ask ourselves two questions about them: What sort of base do they have among the people? What is their political agenda? We then act accordingly.

Why have you not yet entered into negotiations with the opposition in Syria?

We invited everyone who considered themselves to be part of the opposition to the first dialogue conference in 2011. Some came, while the others declined our invitation, saying that we did not address their concerns. What did they mean by that? What should we offer them? A cabinet position? They do not hold any seats in the parliament. How can we know who deserves to be a member of government? One needs criteria and benchmarks to determine this. This is not decided on a whim. The only opposition in the parliament today is the opposition that won seats in the parliament. To make myself clear: The state is not owned by the president who can just give presents away in the form of ministries. It is a national process. Government and the constitution are determined by the people. Our doors are open.

Is there room for a political solution?

When the opposition is independent and has a national base, we have no problem with it. The oppositional groups abroad are reporting to Western foreign ministries and their intelligence organizations. Those who finance these groups dictate their decisions. To us, the opposition must represent a portion of the population and not a foreign country. To be considered a genuine oppositional force, one must live in Syria with the Syrian people and experience its problems and difficulties. Only then can this opposition be a part of the political process.

You have said you do not negotiate with slaves, only with their masters. What do you mean?

I used this comparison to clearly show what is happening. On television, we saw how the French ambassador to Syria spoke with the Syrian opposition, how he issued orders to it and how he even berated it. In another video, members of the opposition talked about how the American ambassador in Syria criticized them. In practical terms, we will negotiate with the United States, France and Great Britain as well as their underlings Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The forces who call themselves the opposition outside Syria are simply employees and, in this regard, slaves.

What do you expect the Syrian conference to accomplish when it is held this summer in Geneva?

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