Caracas, Venezuela,(SANA)_ Nine agreements, memos of understanding and protocols for cooperation in the economic, agricultural, tourism and scientific fields were inked between Syria and Venezuela on Sunday in the presence of Presidents Bashar al-Assad and Hugo Chavez.
After the signature, the two Presidents held a joint press conference.
Following is the press conference between Presidents al-Assad and Chavez :
President al-Assad thanked the Venezuelan People for their warm welcome, saying "I have this feeling when I went in a tour during my spare time wandering in Caracas markets and shops surrounded by Venezuelan people. I felt at home while talking to them."
"I'm happy to cross the Atlantic Ocean for the first time as Venezuela was the starting point for my visits in Latin America… This is the first official visit of a Syrian President and my first official and personal visit to the American Continent, yet the long distance between Syria and this Continent, particularly Syria and Venezuela was not tangible for us," the President said.
"Syrian citizens spread across Venezuela, some of them hold effective posts. We felt that there is something Syrian naturally which decreased the distance. The feeling of alienation has gone away completely.There is nothing that could connect any two countries as the public connection represented bythe Syrian community and expatriates in Venezuela."
President al-Assad said that he discussed with President Chavez several issues including the Middle East and its accumulated complexities in addition to the political situation in Latin America characterized by high political dynamism and the great developments witnessed by the continent over the past few years.
Venezuela has become symbol of resistance and revolution against tyranny
He added that he wanted to pay this visit a long time ago, not only because of the relationship binding him with President Chavez, and his brave and just stances towards regional issues, but mainly because Venezuela has become, for the Arabs, a symbol of resistance and revolution against tyranny and colonialism.
He noted that Venezuela gave birth to many of famous leaders like Simon Bolivar, who led the great battles of liberation in more than one country in Latin America including Venezuela, and the brave President Chavez who is known for his brave stances towards just causes, mainly the Arab issues.
Syria, Venezuela share common aspirations, common challenges
"Venezuela is the essence and main pivot of Syria's relationship with Latin America as we have common aspirations and challenges...There were times where we disagreed with certain states…Of course we were not seeking a disagreement but those countries were the ones that put us in the position of the adversary," President al-Assad said.
The President added that Venezuela has adopted stances that will always remain in the memories of all Arabs, such as its stance towards the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 when Israeli wants jets and tanks killed more than one thousand innocent civilians and war on Gaza where Israel used phosphorus bombs and killed more than 1500 innocent civilians, most of them were women and children.
President al-Assad said "No one in the world doesn't respect President Chavez … no one respects those who don't respect themselves… this comes in the framework of what President Chavez talked about when he mentioned the stances of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan towards the same issues he talked about, particularly the Palestinian issue.'
President al-Assad pointed out that Venezuela and President Chavez have become a symbol of resistance and dignity, asserting that Syria is seeking to establish ''strategic relations with Latin America,'' citing the strong desire of the Syrian and Venezuelan people to achieve independence and their rejection of any foreign dictations.
President al-Assad spoke about different areas of cooperation between Syria and Venezuela, enumerating signed agreements. He expressed hope that "Venezuela would be Syria's maritime gate to Latin America and Syria would be Venezuela's gate to Asia and Eastern Mediterranean" following the launching of a maritime line between Syria and Venezuela.
The President asserted the need for embarking on joint production projects starting with Syria oive manufacturing, calling on the Syrian expatriates, given their knowledge of the two cultures and languages, to play an active direct role to bolster Syrian-Venezuelan relations.
He described his meeting with President Chavez as "very rich" not only because the ''Middle East and Latin America regions are full of events, but because the talks were held with freedom and independence focusing on our national causes, joint interests and concerns.''
National independence is full independence...The world respects only the strong
''Latin America has taken very advanced steps towards gaining full independence, represented in the national independence. Venezuela and President Chavez have a big role in the changes that have taken place over the past ten years in the continent as a whole,'' added President al-Assad.
President al-Assad went on to say "The first factor for gaining this power is achieving the internal national unity; the second factor is the independent national decision while the third factor is that we mustn't be isolated from the others, particularly the friends; therefore, the Syrian-Venezuelan cooperation is very important."
He pointed out that the world respects only the strong, and that there is no place, no respect, neither interests in the weak, asserting that his current visit underscores the strength of the relations between Syria and Venezuela.
President al-Assad said "We must be strong because we are living in a world of rules and these rules as in any game/.We can't play chess with football rules/ so the main rule in the international policy says that the world respects the strong and doesn't respect the weak. There is no place and no respect for the weak or their interests. We have to be strong to gain the respect of the world, and then we will have the right to talk about our national interest and joint interests."
Israeli government is extremist seeking to ignite wars
''We are faced with an Israeli government which has not worked not for a single day, and will not, to give the Palestinian people their independent state. In practice this is an extremist government seeking to ignite wars, spread unrest and problems in the region; what is taking place in Gaza and the siege on the Palestinian people for many years: a million an a half besieged, with no minimum availability of the needed for basic requirements of life for any human being,'' said President al-Assad.
President al-Assad added "There is also the Judaization of Jerusalem by this Israeli government, expelling the Arab Palestinian citizens, the indigenous population of Palestine, from their land and houses, to bring in imported population from overseas to dwell instead of them! They talk about a democratic state and a Jewish state at the same time; in this there is big contradiction: how a state can be democratic for all who are in it: Arabs, Muslims and Christians, and be only a Jewish! Such a talk in practice is impossible only if Israel wants to give a new model in democracy, to be called the democracy of racial discrimination!''
The President went on to say "President Chavez briefed me on the situation in Latin America and the positive developments taking place in the continent, particularly, as I said the national independence and the vision on the future of this continent and its relation with the Middle East. I affirmed him Syria's support to Venezuela's stances and steadfastness in face of pressures which aim at making it a country which only implements foreign dictations…in this occasion, we express confidence that the Venezuelan people will not allow this to happen and the Syrian community which consists a main part of the population know the interests of their homeland Venezuela, and their motherland Syria. Therefore it's our duty to support those who take a national stance towards homeland and the motherland."
''The Israeli forces aggression against the Freedom Flotilla, carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, is another clear-cut proof for the criminality of Israel, and the improbability of peace with this state, which was basically based on terrorism,'' added President al-Assad.
President al-Assad went on saying …I talked with President Chavez about Mideast issues briefly because you know a lot about our region. In the beginning I thanked President Chavez for his stances towards the Palestinian cause and I also thank the Venezuelan people and government which coordinate with us and support the Palestinian people and their issues in the various forums."
Terrorism in the Middle East has a single synonym "Israel"
President al-Assad declared that he and President Chavez see eye to eye on the importance of supporting the resistance and the right of the people whose rights are violated and territories occupied to resistance saying: '' Labeling the resistance with terrorism is unacceptable. Terrorism for us in the Middle East is one word which has a single synonym; that is Israel particularly.
Consequently, we believe in negotiations as a normal way for peace; we are not with wars, or with siege. But when the negotiations fail to achieve the peace, the resistance is the alternative solution, and our duty is to support it...Turkey has never been an enemy to Israel and in spite of that Turkish civilians were killed by the hostile Israeli forces, in return, the international community did nothing as usual except for some shy statements and Israel wasn't punished by anyone."
President al-Assad said "the issue of Judaization has no justifications because we along with you have been open-minded peoples for one hundred years. Immigrants of different nationalities and religions have come to Venezuela yet you have not treated them on racial or religious bases. You welcomed them in your country. We also in Syria open to other nations and religions as there is a great diversity in the fabric of the Syrian community."
President al-Assad added that the Iranian nuclear file was one of the issues discussed during the talks hailing the recently concluded tripartite agreement between Iran, Turkey and Brazil, in reflection of Iran's flexibility, warning against a future application of today's applied on Iran's peaceful nuclear reactors on every developing country.
In reply to a question about the hoped for results of his tour of Latin America, President al-Assad pointed out that the tour includes three aspects: political, economic and the Syrian communities present in Latin America. As far as the political aspect, President al-Assad asserted that Latin America countries historically support Arab Causes and the tour is further to explain our Causes as to gain the more of support for our causes.
"Regardless of media headlines or which are promoted under any title even if it is the United Nations which has been transformed into an organization which implements some countries' policies. One of the funny idioms nowadays is the so called 'the international community' as they tell us, for example, that the international community is not satisfied with Syria's policies. A few weeks or months before that, we met officials from different countries of the world who were against what has been said in this regard and we asked them of what they mean by the 'international community','the President al-Assad added.
''We have to expand our economic interests, especially under the international economic crisis, and with the rising of Latin America Countries, the opportunity would be more ripe to bolster these relations,'' added President al-Assad underscoring the role of the Syrian expatriates in helping the Syrian political stance comprehensibility, explaining it through their presence in the society and countries of Latin America, and also with the same contribution greatly in the building of strong bases for the economic relations.
For his part, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed his people's happiness over President al-Assad's visit.
"It's a great honor that President al-Assad has made Venezuela his first visit on his tour to this part of the Atlantic Ocean," President Chavez said.
He continued that Arab and Latin American peoples are not only similar, but "we also share the same spirituality, the same cultural depth and diversity and the same faith. We hold in our geography and communities a power which has begun to strongly contribute in saving the world and will continue to do so in the coming years."
"President al-Assad explained to me the developments in the Middle East. Never before have I known as I have today. Today there is a new map in the Middle East made by the courageous people and leaderships of the Middle East such as Syria," the Venezuelan President added.
He described the former US administration's policy as "a wrongful policy" that failed, adding that the people and governments of the Middle East, particularly Syria, have drawn up the new map for the Middle East.
He reiterated Venezuela's continued support to the just causes of the Mideast people.
President Chavez continued "Imperialism is desperate. It is now threatening the use of force as it has been doing for years. It is also now resorting to its allies such as Israel to launch attacks on the Palestinian people, Arab people and the peoples of the world."
Damascus-Caracas alliance is the axis of the brave, free people and the new world
"All countries must have sovereignty. We have to strive for the sake of people's sovereignty and independence of decision, and now we in the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean have to play a key role to this effect," said President Chavez, referring to the alliance between Damascus and Caracas which he described as "the axis of the brave, free people and the new world."
The Venezuelan President said that he and President al-Assad discussed bilateral relations, stressing that they both count on the Syrian and Venezuelan expatriate communities and senior officials to intensify efforts to realize the integration of Caracas-Damascus and Syria-Venezuela. President Chavez announced that he will visit Damascus before the end of 2010 to push forward bilateral relations. We have to benefit from the Syrian expertise in textile industry which is deep-rooted in Syria, President Chavez said, adding that Syria and Venezuela have signed an agreement to import Syrian olive oil to meet the needs of Venezuelan people, saying that the first batch is now in Venezuelan markets.
Establishing joint investment projects in various domains
The president said a joint olive oil factory will be set up in Syria. Its production will be exported to the Middle East and Europe. We should have a joint mercantile fleet benefiting from Syria's location on the Mediterranean and being a gate to Asia, the Middle East, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Iran, Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and Ukraine, Chavez added.
He added that the two sides reviewed the construction of oil refinery in Homs. "We have started technical studies. Production capacity will be around 145,000 barrel per day. Venezuela will send the fuel and diesel required to overcome difficulties."
He said Venezuela will contribute 33 percent of the project's capital. This contribution may reach 45 percent, adding that he will lay the foundation stone for this step during his next visit to Syria. The refinery will start operation in 2013.
A number of petrochemical factories and natural gas processing and dissolution plants will be set up around the refinery, he said.
A Syrian-Venezuelan fund to finance USD 100 million projects will be established. Venezuela will support Syrian businessmen by promoting easy loans and import substitution industrialization to boost Syrian-Venezuelan trade exchange.
Syrian-Venezuelan industries and companies are to be established in Venezuela to provide economic and financial support for this net.
President Chavez said, ''We have to invest in Syria and increase the production of olives and apples, establish joint companies and move ahead in the fields of energy, medicine, sciences, finance and tourism.
He called for exchanging scientific expeditions, establishing joint companies, airlines and maritime lanes as well as achieving production integration between the two countries as Syria has harbors and rivers and a special position between the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.
''Golan will return to the Syrian people because it belongs to them. We do not want more wars and someday the Israeli government will be put in its place after it has turned into an arm to imperialism which threatens all the peoples,'' Chavez added.
Answering a question on the refinery to be set up in Homs, Chavez said, ''The cornerstone of the project will be put soon and there will be a new refinery,'' stressing Venezuela's support to Syria and all friendly countries and indicating that the Venezuelan oil will reach Syria.
On the developments in the Middle East and Latin America and the receding US influence in both, President Chavez said, ''The US influence has diminished in Latin America politically and economically, and the same happened in the Middle East, where the US has attempted to come up with a new Middle East …The project failed, Israel and the US are now isolated.''
Chavez stressed that future will ensure balance in humanity and will save the world from unipolarism and imperialism. This guarantees a free and democratic world where peace and respect prevail.