After talks with Croatian President Stjepan Mesić, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday called on European countries to take on a more active role in the Middle East peace process.
We have discussed the peace process in the Middle East, particularly the situation in Palestinian areas, and I have informed President Mesić of the need for European countries to be more actively engaged in building peace in the region, Bashar al-Assad told a news conference which he and his Croatian counterpart held in Damascus on Monday.
The Croatian head of state arrived in Damascus on Sunday evening for an official visit during which he will also visit Croatian troops serving in the UN peacekeeping mission on the Golan Heights and spend Christmas with them.
The Syrian president told the news conference that it was necessary to find mechanisms that would make Israel accept UN Security Council resolutions. The resumption of the Syrian-Israeli negotiations was the most important topic of the talks, Al-Assad said in response to questions from Croatian reporters on the Syrian-Israeli talks which continued this autumn with the mediation of Turkey after years of standstill.
It is possible for us to embark on direct talks, but what is important for the time being is that we are talking. I would compare this with the process of building a house. Making good foundations is of the utmost importance so that the house does not collapse, the Syrian official said.
Asked what he expected of the new US Administration, which will be led by President Barack Obama, he said that Syria was now more optimistic and that it hoped there would be no new war hotbeds. We hope that Obama will have a good vision for Iraq, withdraw foreign troops, and simultaneously start a political process which will bring about equality for everybody in Iraq after the withdrawal, the Syrian president said.
Asked to comment on Syrian-Croatian relations, he said that today's talks were constructive and useful and that they had laid a good foundation for the continuation of bilateral cooperation.
"They (the talks) open new prospects for the enhancement of our bilateral relations," the Croatian president added. President Mesić said that he was a proponent of the development of good relations between Croatia and other countries on other continents, alongside the fulfillment of its foreign policy goals such as admission to the European Union and NATO.
I was interested in the Syrian position on the Middle East and the decades-long crisis which has been burdening international relations, Mesic said, adding that historical facts must be accepted. For the Middle East, this means that Palestinians have the right to have their own state and Israel has the right to survive, President Mesić said reiterating that all problems must be solved through negotiations and not by means of war.