Caracas,(SANA)_President Bashar al-Assad and Mrs. Asma al-Assad met on Monday members of the Syrian community in Venezuela in the presence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Addressing the Syrian community, President al-Assad said that it is natural that President Chavez attends such a meeting "because you as Syrian expatriates belong to Syria as much as you belong to Venezuela, and you defend your causes as much as President Chavez defends them," adding that its is not strange that President Chavez has been called "the Arab Leader" because of his support for Arab causes.
The President said that Venezuela has always treated Arab immigrants as if they were its sons, giving them all rights, and it has never treated them on the basis of race or religion.
President al-Assad said that this attitude established the link between the Arab nation and Latin America, noting that this human link is the strongest that can be established between any two countries or regions.
"We don't know much about Latin America except that it stands by our side on the public level in support of the Palestinian cause," the President said, adding that no Arab citizen will ever forget this attitude of the people and countries of Latin America, which is at least 10, 000 km away from the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, while all over the past decades the world has been totally indifferent or acted against the interests of the Arab people whose land was usurped.
President al-Assad added that President Chavez has always been known for his steadfastness and bravery in facing challenges and pressures and defending his country's issues and the just causes of the Arab nation.
President al-Assad said Venezuela supported the Lebanese people as it took a firm historical stance when Israel launched a hostile attack against them in 2006 killing more than one thousand people most of them were innocent children and women…Venezuela's stance came in the interest of its relations with Syria which have been built on mutual support and common issues, challenges and rejection of any foreign dictations and all forms of occupation."
The President added that the Latin America is an important continent and Venezuela is a key country on the international map…The pressures against President Chavez over the last few years have not been able to undermine Venezuela."
President al-Assad went on saying "At the same time when Venezuela was facing huge pressures, Syria was facing pressures that were not less difficult than what happened to President Chavez and maybe more difficult. But President Chavez defeated all challenges bravely because he bet on the people… we in Syria have bet on the people, so it's natural that we win the bet."
The President said the world only respects the strong…If we are not strong, we will not be respected and we will not be heard by mass media…We will not also have a decision or any real thing on the ground and this is what they call 'Public Diplomacy'."
President al-Assad continued "Truly, we have built our policy on the ground and we left the 'Public Diplomacy' for them…We differentiate between this diplomacy and politics as the latter is built on the ground. We must know that the national decisions are more important than the international ones and this is what we do in Syria as we signed the United Nations Charter, but we signed it to be implemented not to be transformed into double standard."
" Power can be achieved when we are unified on the internal level…There are a lot of differences over any issue, but we mustn't allow foreign forces to interfere in these differences …We have different viewpoints on internal issues, but we must be unified without any hesitation in dealing with external issues."
President al-Assad added "I talk to you as one family. Many ties, aspirations and feelings are binding us. We have the same enemy and we are facing the same pressures. Today, I visit Venezuela because it leads the developments in Latin America and defends the interests of this continent and its independence which was achieved in the last decade."
"I didn't ask anyone before my current visit, I only thought of the national interests. We don't work according to the opinions or choices of others; we work according to our interests and choices. When I say we, I mean the Syrians in the first place. The past years have not been easy, but they proved that we are right and the maps in our and your regions have changed in spite of everything…We have transformed the Middle East which Condoleezza Rice called for to a Middle East based on the Arab vision as we want it to be," the President affirmed.
President al-Assad said that President Chavez's visit to Syria in 2006 was the real beginning of the relation between both countries.
He added that at the time of that visit "we had a lot of visions and ideas, but we didn't have a real base to start cooperation. We had discussed many issues that were unattainable at that time. It took both governments three years to study the agreements. On this visit we achieved the framework agreement to push forward this relation. Agreements are important, but the challenge now is how to turn them into actual practices on the ground."
President al-Assad highlighted the excellent political relation and coordination between Syria and Venezuela, adding that the problem now is with cooperation in economy which "we want it to match up with the political relations."
"We want to have a strategic relation between the two countries. This is my goal and President Chavez's goal. We want to pay Venezuela's favors back."
The President added "We view Venezuela as a country that supports our causes and embodies the history of resistance and revolution in Latin America and the world. It has now also become a symbol of resistance in the Middle East and the Arab world."
President al-Assad said that Syria is the supporter of resistance in the region in the face of the external challenges, stressing that the biggest challenge for the people in the Middle East region is Israel.
"The stability we have been seeking seems out of reach under the Israeli aggressive policies against the Arab countries and particularly the Palestinians."
The President described what is happening in Gaza as "slow death" of one and a half million people suffering badly form the Israeli siege imposed on them from all sides.
President al-Assad said "We reject surrender. We accept only the real peace that gives the rights back to their owners. We don't support resistance because we are seeking conflicts or what they call violence…We don't know hatred even toward those who aggress against us, but at the same time we know firmness and the difference between hatred and firmness…We are firm toward our causes without feeling hatred. Therefore, resistance is not terrorism. Terrorism for us is the Israeli practices, policies and intentions toward the Arab people and the peace process."
President al-Assad stressed that peace can't be achieved without the return of the rights "which must be first given back, then peace comes later."
He said that Syria believes in dialogue as the natural path toward solving any problem no matter how complex it might be, "therefore, regarding peace, negotiations are the natural path."
The President stressed that "when negotiations have failed for two decades now, the option will be resistance…Resistance is the parallel path to the restoration of the rights…Resistance doesn't contradict peace, it will lead to peace. The result will be the restoration of the lands and the rights, and then peace will be definitely achieved in our region."
President al-Assad said cooperation with Latin America "is more urgent now than ever, and that despite the challenges and pressures, we are now more able to embark on this cooperation," referring to the key role of expatriate communities in giving push to the trade exchange with Venezuela which is still at its minimum.
"The force of the expatriate community is determined by the role it might play between Syria and Venezuela through maintaining communication with the motherland," the President said, calling on the Syrian community in Venezuela to work to link together the interests of the people of both countries and to preserve their Arabic language and culture in order to maintain the bond with their motherland and the country of residence.