Al-Assad speech welcoming the Greek president
Syria-Greece, Politics, 2/4/2002
His Excellency President Constantinos Stephanopoulus President of the Hellenic Republic,
Members of the Greek Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are meeting this evening on the splendid occasion of welcoming the distinguished guest of Syria, President Constantinos Stephanopoulus.
It gives me great pleasure to warmly greet His Excellency, as President of a friendly state, representing a friendly people and as a dear guest of the Syrian Arab Republic. I also welcome the dignitaries accompanying him and I wish His Excellency and wish them a happy stay in our country which was linked to Greece by historic links in ancient time, and by relations of friendship and cooperation in present time.
The relations between our two peoples emerged and developed by factors of geography and history, thus mutual stimulation was one of the fruits of these factors.
The location of both Syria and Greece on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea helped communication between the two peoples and deepening of understanding between our two governments in recently years, regarding events and developments in the immediate neighbourhood, the Mediterranean basin in general or in the wider international arena.
In the historic relationship between the two countries, both were influencing and influenced. It is true to say that intellectual exchanges between them were the most prominent character of this relationship. Thanks to these exchanges, works of ancient Greek philosophers and scientists reached far beyond Greece through philosophers and scientists in the Arab territory, who contributed to disseminating the Greek civilization throughout the world.
In the history of the two countries there were similar experiences and circumstances, and in both of them there are historical features which are witness to glorious phases in their history, such features do attract tourists and lovers of acquaintance with successive and interactive civilizations.
Moreover, Christianity moved from Damascus to the Greek territory and later spread throughout the Roman Empire by Saint Paul whose famous epistles are well preserved by the Church.
We have in our country a decades old Greek community, participating in public life and enjoying respect. Over the years there came to be links of kinship and love among members of the community and Syrian families.
All the above said confirm the ancient origins of relations between our two countries and qualify these relations to achieve increased development based on mutual respect and understanding and common interests.
In Syria we strive to strengthen common Arab work, at the same time we are keen to strengthen relations of friendship and cooperation with other states in the world. In this regard we highly appreciate the stands of Greece supporting our just causes, and we express our full satisfaction with the positive and continuing development of our bilateral relations.
I am convinced, Mr. President, that your visit to Syria will bear fruits in further upgrading the relations between the Syrian Arab Republic and Greece at all levels, to the benefit of our two peoples and to serve the cause of peace in our region and in the world at large.
The advent of the 21st century came while the world was astonished at the criminal act of 11th September last year in the United States, which we immediately denounced and condemned, specially that Syria suffered from terrorism and has experience in combatting it.
In order that the fight against terrorism achieve its purpose, there should be a clear definition of terrorism and discrimination between it and legitimate struggle against aggression and occupation.
You are aware that Syria called for this several years ago, and you recall that the late President Hafez al-Assad called during his visit to Athens in 1986 for an international forum to define terrorism so that the peoples of the world may be fully aware of what they combat.
However, to our surprise there was a reversal of conceptions and theories, and there appeared that in the war against terrorism some conceived this war as a war against people, who strive to restore their rights.
Strangely enough, for example, that all the deeds of Israel to which apply the description of state terrorism in its ugliest forms, are acceptable and even encouraged and justified, moreover the sight of tanks and aircrafts attacking inhabitants of popular quarters in Palestinian territory to kill innocent people, destroy dozens of houses and to displace their unarmed inhabitants, such right is considered to be in self-defence.
As a result of this attitude, and with the existence in Israel of governments which are hostile to the concept of peace, and with the abandoning by the sponsors of the peace progress of their duties towards it, this process has reached a stalemate. We have stated and repeat that we want peace, and that we put no conditions on achieving it other than abiding by United Nations resolutions and the principle of land for peace. At the same time we shall not give up an inch of our territory or any of our rights, Syrian and Arab.
Just and comprehensive peace is attainable through the implementation of United Nations resolutions which call for Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories to the line of 4th June, 1967, and recognition of the right of the Arab people of Palestine to their independent state with Jerusalem its capital, and repatriation of Palestinian refugees.
We seek support to the ranks of those who advocate peace in our region, and hope that the co-sponsors of the peace process, the European Union and the United Nations will comply with the requirements of ending aggression and restoring just and comprehensive peace in our region.
again I welcome you and your delegation in Syria which values friendship and seeks to strengthen relations with your friendly country.
In conclusion I wish Your Excellency good health and happiness and your people continued prosperity.
May friendship between our two peoples continue to prosper.
Greek President: We support Palestinian peopleÍs rights
President Stephanopoulos made a speech expressing happiness over the visit to friendly Syria and appreciating the great hospitality accorded to him and to members of the Greek delegation. He conveyed most sincere greetings of amity and friendship by the Greek people to the Syrian government and people, stressing that the relations of friendship between the two peoples were consolidated throughout long centuries and were based on common understanding and respect.
Geographically and historically, Syria, President Stephansopoulos said, was a point of meeting for different nations that co-existed peacefully and exchanged ideas and knowledge that contributed to making Syria a unique characteristic as a country rich of archaeology and civilization treasures. The President went on to say: I am pleased to realize that the conventional ties between our two peoples are still firm and excellent and need further enhancement at all levels.
The Greek President said among other things: The excellent political relations were always based on the common belief in principles of peaceful co-existence and in provisions of the international law and legitimacy. I congratulate Syria for being elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and I thank You and the Syrian government for the positive stances taken at the international organizations towards sensitive issues of interest to both Greece and Cyprus.
Towards the troubled issues of the Middle East, Greece has always committed itself to a policy based on principles and faithfulness to moral values. The firm principle to settle disputes is the dialogue which is based on UN resolutions, and not resorting to violence in order to impose a status-quo.
"We support the legitimate rights of the friendly Palestinian people and the establishment of an independent state in terms of maintaining negotiations within the framework of the peace process and on the basis of UN resolutions. We, at the same time, recognize IsraelÍs right to live safely inside the internationally-recognized borders.
We are deeply concerned of the current tragedy in the Palestinian territories and of the continuation of violence and bloodshed irrespective of their source and victims. The negative element is represented by the continuation of IsraelÍs acts of demolishing houses and destroying the infrastructure projects. Such acts push the Palestinian people to despair, and there are fears lest the continuation of this policy should threaten the entire region and undermine stability in the whole east Mediterranean region.
True peace is unattainable unless all parties honour Resolutions 242 and 338 and the Golan is returned to Syria.
We are of the deep conviction that the best way to confront the phenomena of terrorism and extremism is to eliminate their causes and to back regional blocs of development and understanding. The strong cooperation between Syria and Greece can give push to important initiatives in the domains of information technology, environment and civilization since the latter element constitutes the strongest one between the two countries.
You are building modern Syria which has to play an effective role in history, and we are confident that this role will continue unabated.
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