Transcript provided by the Syrian Arab News Agency.
Mr. Prime Minister,
Heads and members of the leaderships of popular organizations and trade unions,
Sisters and brothers,
Today I look at your faces and the faces of the people of our country as they are covered with sorrow and pain. I look into the eyes of Syria's children and I don't see an innocent laugh shinning, nor do I see toys that draw a smile on their faces. I watch the hands of elderly people and see them open to prayer for the safety of a son, a daughter or a grandson.
We meet today with suffering prevailing over Syria's land leaving no room for joy in any corner of the homeland. Safety and security have been absent from the country's streets and alleys.
We meet today and there are mothers who lost their sons, families who lost their breadwinners, children who became orphans and brothers who have been parted from each other, being martyred, displaced or missing.
If pain is pervading like a dark cloud over the country, the emotional state, though sublime, is not enough to compensate for the loss of the loved ones or the restoration of security and peace to the country or for providing bread, water, fuel and medicine nationwide.
Out of the womb of pain, hope should be begotten and from the depth of suffering the most important solutions rise. As the dark cloud in the sky conceals sunlight, it also carries in its layers rain, purity and hope of welfare and giving.
These feelings of agony, sadness, challenge and determination constitute a huge energy that will not get Syria out of its crisis unless it turns this energy into a comprehensive national dynamic that saves the homeland from a campaign, unprecedented in the history of the region, targeting it. This national dynamic is the only balm for the deep wounds which affected our society and were about to divide it as it is the only way that is able to preserve Syria geographically and make it stronger politically.
Each citizen is responsible and able to provide something even if it is simple or limited in his/her view, because the homeland is for everyone; we all defend it, each according to his/her capacity and capability, because ideas are forms of defense, stances are forms of defense, construction is a form of defense and protecting people's properties is a form of defense.
Since the attack is launched against the homeland with all its human and material constituents, the mindful citizen has certainly known that passivity, waiting for time or others to solve the problem is a sort of pushing the country towards the abyss, and not contributing solutions is a kind of taking the homeland backwards with no progress towards overcoming what the homeland is going through.
Because many have fallen into the trap of what has been cast as a conflict between a government and an opposition, i.e. a conflict over office and power, they have kept at a distance and remained silent and neutral. Consequently, it is our duty all to readjust our vision in the direction of the homeland. The conflict is one between the homeland and its enemies, between the people and killers, between the citizens' bread, water and warmth on the one hand and those who are depriving them of them all on the other, between a state of safety that we used to pride ourselves on, and spreading fear and panic in people’s lives.
They have killed civilians and the innocent in order to kill light and brightness in our country. They have assassinated qualified and distinguished people in order to spread their ignorance over our minds. They have sabotaged the infrastructure built with the people's money to make suffering pervade into our lives. They deprived children of their schools to devastate the future of the country and express their ignorance. They cut off power supplies, communication lines and fuel supplies, leaving the elderly and children suffering from the cold weather without medicine in confirmation of their savagery. They destroyed wheat silos and robbed the wheat and flour stocks, to make a loaf of bread like a dream for citizens and to starve people. So, is this a conflict for power and office or is it a conflict between the homeland and its enemies? Is it a struggle for power, or is it revenge against the Syrian people who did not give those terrorist killers the key word for dismembering Syria and its society. They are the enemies of the people; and the enemies of the people are the enemies of God; and the enemies of God will be burnt by hellfire on the day of judgment.
At the beginning they wanted it a fake revolution but the Syrian people rebelled against them; then they tried to impose it secretly through money, the media and arms; and when they failed, they moved to the second phase through dropping the masks of a "peaceful revolution" and unveiled the cover of the weapons they were using secretly to use them openly, starting their attempts to occupy certain cities in order to attack other cities. Their brutality didn't intimidate our people, thanks to their awareness and steadfastness; so our people rejected them and unveiled their lies. Therefore they decided to take revenge on the people through spreading terrorism indiscriminately everywhere.
They call it a revolution, but in fact it has nothing to do with revolutions. A revolution needs thinkers. A revolution is built on thought. Where are their thinkers? A revolution needs leaders. Who is its leader? Revolutions are built on science and thought not on ignorance, on pushing the country ahead not taking it centuries back, on spreading light not cutting power lines. A revolution is usually done by the people not by importing foreigners to rebel against the people. A revolution is in the interest of people not against the interests of people. Is this a revolution? Are those revolutionaries? They are a bunch of criminals.
Takfiris [Muslim apostate] were working at the back rows through bombings and mass killing, leaving the armed gangs at the front line, but the unity of the Syrian people and army forced them to move to fighting at the front lines where they led the rudder of a ship of blood, killing and mutilation. Because takfiri thought is alien to our country, they had to import it from abroad, whether through terrorists or thought. Thus, takfiris, terrorists, al-Qaeda members calling themselves Jihadis streamed from everywhere to command the combat operations on the ground. The gunmen, having failed, retreated to the backlines as aides in acts of kidnapping, pillaging and sabotage, as servants, and at best, guides who spy on their fellow citizens to serve criminals takfiris who only speak the language of slaughtering and mangling.
We are fighting those, most of whom are non-Syrians, who came for twisted concepts and fake terms they call Jihad, but nothing can be farther from Jihad and Islam. Most of them are terrorists instilled with al-Qaeda thought, and I believe that most of you know how this kind of terrorism was fostered three decades ago in Afghanistan by the West and with Arabs' money. After the mission of these terrorists ended with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and its departure from Afghanistan, terrorism broke loose and started hitting everywhere in the Arab world, the Islamic world and then moved to the West. They tried to get rid of it through Afghanistan War and in the aftermath of Iraq's War, but this terrorism was unyielding and pervasive, and started to infiltrate Western societies. So, the events in the Arab world, especially in Syria, presented the Western powers with an opportunity to transfer as many terrorists as possible to Syria to turn it into the land of Jihad, hence dispensing with two troublesome rivals at the same time through getting rid of the terrorists and weakening Syria which is a nuisance for the West.
An organization specialized in terrorism issued a month or so ago a report on the decrease in terrorist acts in general, especially in the Middle and East Asia, which is true, because most of the terrorists came to Syria from these countries and some even come from the Western countries. Those terrorists' infiltration into any society is a security threat, but it is possible to vanquish them when we have the will to do so. The most dangerous still is a social and intellectual infiltration. When this kind of thought infiltrates into a society, it becomes deformed unless this issue is seriously tackled regardless of the crisis in Syria. We have to be above differences. Otherwise, we would bequeath blood to our sons and grandsons. Syria, as we know it, won't be there, not necessarily geographically speaking, but Syria as a society, because this thought incites sedition and destroys geography and the political meaning of any society which it invades. This is a great responsibility, and we have to unite in order to shoulder it.
The crisis has other dimensions, not only internal ones as it became clear to all who want to see. Regionally, there are parties who seek to divide Syria, others to weaken it, and some parties are providing the criminals with funds and weapons, while others are providing them with support and training. We were not surprised at what some neighboring countries have done to weaken and control the Syrian people, and the countries who sought a place in a history they don't have, writing it instead with the blood of innocent Syrians, but Syria and the Syrian people are strong, and they vow that they will not forget.
Syria has always been, and will remain, a free and sovereign country that won't accept submission and tutelage. That is why it has been a nuisance for the West, so they sought to take advantage of internal events to drive Syria out of the political equation in the region to get rid of this irksome problem and to strike at the culture of resistance and turn us into subordinates. But the West is not the entire international community, as there are world countries, namely Russia, China and the BRICS countries, and many other countries which won't agree to meddling in the internal affairs of countries and destabilizing the region based on their principles, interests and care for the people's freedom in determining their destiny. To those countries I extend my thanks, namely to Russia, China and Iran, and to all those who stood by the Syrian people to determine their own destiny.
In light of this, there cannot be talk about a solution unless we take into consideration these factors: the internal, the regional and the international. Any measure that does not change these factors is not a real solution and has no impact. Let's start with the internal front: if some tended to see the disagreement in the beginning as one between loyalists and the opposition, this disagreement in a civilized world should be over the way to build the homeland not destroy it, over developing it rather than taking it decades back. When part of the people becomes tied to foreign powers, the conflict becomes between the homeland and outside powers, between the country's independence and hegemony over it, between staying free being politically occupied; and hence the issue becomes defending the homeland and all of us unify against the outside aggression which is aided by some internal tools.
So, when we say external opposition or any such words we don't mean the place where these people live; rather we mean the place where they set their hearts and minds, their affiliation and bondage, and most importantly their funding. This is what we mean by outside, whether they live inside or outside, as there are people living outside but they defend their country.
It is not a matter of loyalists against opposition, nor an army vis-à-vis gangs and criminals. We are in a state of war in the full sense of the word. We are repelling a fierce outside aggression in a new disguise, which is more lethal and dangerous than a traditional war, because they do not employ their tools to strike us; instead, they have us implement their projects, and target Syria using a bunch of Syrians and a lot of foreigners.
Such war is confronted through defending the homeland in parallel with a reform that is necessary to all of us, which may not change the reality of war, yet it strengthens us and reinforces our unity in the face of the war. Some may believe that herein lies the solution or that reforms will solve the problem, which is not true. Reforms is an influential factor but it is not all the solution.
Reform without security is like security without reform. Neither will be successful without the other. Those who keep parroting that Syria has opted for a security solution do not see or hear. We have repeatedly said that reforms and politics go in one hand and eliminating terrorism in the other.
And to those who twist facts we say: when someone is attacked and he defends himself, do we say that he defended himself or he chose the security solution? Why when a state defends its people and when people defend their homeland, they say that they have opted for the security solution?
Defending the homeland is a duty that isn't up for discussion and is a legal, constitutional and religious duty and is the only choice. The security solution is no choice. Here there is one choice, which is self-defense. If we chose the political solution and sought it since the first days, this doesn't mean not to defend ourselves, and if we chose the political solution since the first days, this means that we need a partner that is capable and willing to move in a political process and enter a dialogue process on the national level. If we chose the political solution and didn't see a partner, that doesn't mean that we didn't desire one; this means that we didn't see a partner during the past stage. To be clearer, for instance, if someone wants to get married and sought a partner but didn't find someone to desire and accept them, this doesn't mean that he doesn't want to be married. Therefore, any proposition that the state in Syria chose the security solution is incorrect and wasn't proposed at any time; and no state official announced that we chose the security solution.
When you're under attack and you defend yourself, it's called self-defense, not choosing a security solution. We didn't choose war; war was imposed on Syria, and when the state defends the people and we defend ourselves, no reasonable person can call that choosing a security solution. Defending the homeland is a duty and an only choice, ad accepting the political solution doesn't mean not defending ourselves, but also accepting the political solutions means the existence of a political partner that is capable of dialogue and willing to engage in it.
We never rejected the political solution as we have adopted it since day one based on dialogue as its main pillar as we lend our hands to those who have a national political project that moves Syria forward. But who do we conduct dialogue with? With those who are carrying extremist thinking, and do not believe except in blood, killing and terrorism.
Should we conduct dialogue with gangs that receive their orders from abroad and follow a foreigner who orders them to reject dialogue because it believes that dialogue will foil his schemes aiming at weakening and undermining Syria?
The leaders of some regional countries know that if Syria came out of the crisis, it will undermine their political future after they were involved and drowned their peoples with lies, spent their countries' potentials in supporting terrorism and involved in the bloodshed and the killing of the innocent.
As for the west, the descendant of colonialism and owner of the first seal in the policy of division and despicable sectarian strife, it is the one who closed the door of dialogue not us, because it's used to giving orders to the submissive, and we're used to sovereignty, independence and freedom of decision, because it's addicted to hirelings and the subjugated and because we're raised on dignity and pride, and so shall we remain. So, how can it hold dialogue with us, and why would it hold dialogue with is? Therefore, those who talk about the political solution only and ignore these facts are either ignorant of the facts or are weak. They delivers their country and the people of the country as a tender morsel to criminals and those who stand behind them, selling their people and the blood of their martyrs for free, which we will not allow.
Some speak of the political solution only, and some speak of combating terrorism only, and this discourse is imprecise, as the solution should be comprehensive and must contain several axes: the political axis, combating terrorism, and the third axis that is very important which is the social solution. We have examples in Homs and Daraa in particular where the situation improved significantly because of this social solution, as patriotic people with a patriotic sense and national affiliation and morals made initiatives between the state and some of those who were misled among gunmen and terrorists, producing very important results in reality. These people don't belong to parties nor do they have a political program; they only have national affiliation; and this type of initiative is very important, particularly since any crisis in any country, even if it were a normal crime, will exacerbate; therefore, we must always return to the social roots.
I salute those who made national achievements, each according to his/her capability. I know some of those and met with them directly and there are some others whom I heard of. There are unknown soldiers to whom we extend greetings and say that we count a lot on their initiatives.
It might seem from all we have went through that there is no one for us to have dialogue with, but this is incorrect. We will always extend our hands for dialogue. We will have dialogue with all those who don't agree with us in politics and who have stances contrary to ours providing that those stances are not based on affecting the national principles and basics.
We will have dialogue with parties and individuals who did not sell the homeland to strangers, and with those who dropped weapons to have the genuine Arab Syrian blood running back in their veins. We will be real honest partners with every honest patriotic citizen who works for Syria's interest and for its security and stability.
Accordingly and out of our firm principles, on top being the sovereignty of the state and the independence of its decision, and based on the principles and goals of the UN Charter and the international law which all stress on the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of countries and non-interference in their internal affairs, and out of our belief in the necessity of having a Syrian-led dialogue among the people of Syria and restoring the atmosphere of security and stability, the political solution in Syria will be as follows:
First: the concerned regional and international countries commit themselves to putting an end to funding, arming and harboring armed elements. On parallel, armed elements stop their terrorist operations, which will facilitate the return of displaced Syrians to their original residential places safely.
Immediately afterwards, the Armed Forces halt the military operations but preserve the right to respond in case the homeland, citizens and public and private facilities came under any attack.
Second: Finding a mechanism to make sure that all are committed to the aforementioned item, particularly with regard to border control.
Third: The current government immediately starts making intensive contacts with all the spectrums of the Syrian society with all its parties and bodies to conduct open discussion to pave the way for holding a national dialogue conference in which all the forces seeking a solution in Syria take part, whether they are inside or outside the country.
First: The current government calls for holding a comprehensive national dialogue conference to reach a national pact that adheres to Syria's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity as well as to rejecting interference in its affairs and discarding terrorism and violence in all its forms.
The government's call upon the parties and the spectrums of the society is aimed at setting the criteria for this conference which is to be held later.
As for the pact, it will draw the political future for Syria and propose the constitutional and judicial system and the political and economic features, as it will also include agreement on new laws for the parties, elections and local administration, etc.
Second: The pact will be put to referendum.
Third: An expanded government will be formed to represent the components of Syrian society, which will be assigned with implementing the provisions of the national pact.
Fourth: The new constitution will be put to referendum, and after it is approved the expanded government will adopt the laws agreed on at the dialogue conference according the new constitution, including the elections law. Afterwards, new parliamentary elections are held.
We may put the word 'if' as far as everything related to the constitution and laws is concerned because everything will be contingent on reaching agreement regarding the contribution and laws in the dialogue conference, which will be then presented by the government once they are agreed on.
First: A new government will be formed according to the constitution existing at the time.
Second: A general conference for national reconciliation will be held and a general amnesty will be granted to those detained due to the events while preserving the civil rights of plaintiffs.
Third: Working on infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction and giving and compensating those affected by the events.
As for the amnesty, the civil rights of the complainants will be preserved as the state can waive its right but has no right to waive the rights of the plaintiffs.
I believe though that when we have reached that stage, it will be an amnesty granted not only by the state but also by those who have rights. Then we will have practically reached the national reconciliation when everybody would forgive everybody else.
These main features of the political solution as we view it are only titles that need details. The government will be in charge of this issue as it will be tasked with drawing out the details and expanding on these titles so as to later present this vision in the form of an initiative in the coming few days and follow up on all these stages according to the aforementioned items.
Let us put each issue in its context, since we are living now in an age of falsification and misinterpretation. It's not us who are interpreting things, but this is the general case, that is to interpret things contrary to their meanings. Therefore, let us place things in their context and correct the ideas and terms being proposed.
First, regarding this vision, some will be worried and feel concerned, considering it a step backwards in terms of security, but I reassure everyone that when it comes to combating terrorism, we will not stop as long as there is a single terrorist in Syria. What we started, we won't stop. Anything we do in this initiative doesn't mean at all that we will neglect combating terrorism; to the contrary, the more we make progress in combating terrorism, the more there's a chance for the success of this vision.
Second, this vision, whether they want to call it an initiative or a vision or ideas, is directed to all those who want dialogue and all those who want to see a political solution in the near future in Syria. It isn't directed to those who don't want dialogue and thus we'll hear as of today much rejection by parties you know well, and we tell them in advance: why reject something that isn't addressed to you in the first place. So they don't need to waste their time.
Third, any initiative proposed by any party, figure or country must be based on the Syrian vision; meaning that no initiative can replace what we view as a solution to the crisis in Syria. In clearer language, any initiative is an initiative to help what the Syrians will do and doesn't replace that. After posing the ideas by the government, any initiative that comes from abroad must be based on these ideas and assist them. There's no need to waste our time and others' time with initiatives that deviate from this context.
At the same time, if we wonder how foreign initiatives can help us, there are two axes: the political work axis, and the counter-terrorism axis. In the first axis, we don't need help, and we as Syrians are capable of carrying out an integrated political process, and those who want to help Syria in a practical actual and honest manner and want to succeed can focus on the issue of stopping the entry of gunmen, weapons and funds to Syria. This is a message to everyone working from abroad to know where to focus. We don't want someone to come to Syria and tell us what to do in a political process. A country that is thousands of years old knows how to manage its affairs.
The fourth point, supporting helpful foreign initiatives doesn't mean in any way accepting its interpretation if it doesn't match our vision. We don't accept any interpretation of these initiatives except in a manner that serves Syrian interest. In this framework I'm talking about the Geneva initiative which Syria supported but had an ambiguous article which is the transitional stage article.
Of course, it isn't explained for a simple reason, because when we speak of a transitional stage then the first thing we ask is transition from where to where, or from what to what. Is it a transition from a free, independent country to a country under occupation, for example? Do we make a transition from a country that has a state to a country without a state and a state of utter chaos? Or do we make a transition from independent national decision to handing this decision to foreigners?
Of course, opponents want all three together, and for us in such circumstances, a transitional stage is transition from instability to stability, and any other interpretation doesn't concern us. In other situations if there hadn't been a crisis, a natural transition would be from a state to a better state. This comes in the context of the development process, and any transition in terms of any transitional stage must be through constitutional means. For us, what we're doing now, these ideas; for us this is the transitional stage.
Fifth, any initiative we accepted, we did so because it is based on the principle of sovereignty and the people's decision. Indeed, the initiatives that were proposed and we dealt with, focus on this point from the beginning. Therefore, things agreed upon within Syria or outside it must be by the people's decision. Thus, even the national pact which could be approved by the national dialogue conference will not pass without a referendum. This means that there must be a popular referendum on anything, particularly in these difficult conditions. We told everyone we met that anything or any idea that comes from outside or inside my pass through popular referendum, not through the president, government, dialogue or any other thing.
This constitutes a type of guarantee to always take steps that actually express popular consensus and national interest. If we understand these simple and clear words, then all those who come to Syria and leave it know that Syria accepts advice but doesn't accept dictations and accepts help but doesn't' accept tyranny.
Based on all that, all you could have heard or did hear in the past of terms, ideas, opinions, initiatives and statements via the media and from officials don't concern us if they're terms of a "spring" origin. They are soap bubbles as the "spring" is but a soap bubble which will disappear.
Any interpretation of any issue that deviates from Syrian sovereignty for us is but mere dreams. They have the right to dream and they can live in their dreaming fantasy world, but they can't make us live in their realistic world, and we won't make any initiative or action except based on Syrian reality and on the interest and desire of the people.
Sisters and brothers,
The homeland is above all, and Syria is above all. We can strengthen Syria through political initiatives and defending every single grain of its soil. Syrians abound with forgiveness and tolerance, but pride and patriotism run in their veins. The majority of people have risen against terrorism. Some have helped through providing the competent authorities with valuable information which enabled them to abort terrorist attacks against citizens. Others have risen against terrorists and deprived them of a support base, whether through defending their areas or even taking to the streets in protest against gunmen, many even fell [as martyrs] while doing so, and others have defended the cities, districts and infrastructure hand in hand with the armed forces.
I will mention one example of a small village in the farthest north of Syria in al-Hasaka province named Raas al-Ein where the valiant young men of this village, which lies directly on the Turkish border, confronted over several days repeated terrorist attacks and were able to force out the terrorists who came from Turkey. So, we give our salute to this village.
There are others who argued, convinced, forgave and were forgiven through national reconciliation initiatives on the local level, which blocked the road before the terrorists and shifted the general situation from escalation to calm.
Those citizens have demonstrated deep awareness. The aspired-to security does not come through fence-sitting, watching, escaping or groveling to the outside. If we are not fine in our country, we won't be so anywhere outside it. The homeland is not for those who dwell in it, but for those who defend it. The homeland is not for those who enjoyed its blessings and shade but were not there when it called for them.
The homeland is for those who rose from all walks of life and affiliations when their homeland needed them, even though they were wronged at times. This is the time for giving and their giving has been without bounds. Some were honored with martyrdom, and their blood had punctured the fake 'Spring' and shielded the people from deceit that was about to bear fruit in the beginning. Their blood has punctured what the West falsely dubbed Spring, but was a vindictive fire that sought to torch whatever came its way through an abominable sectarianism, blind hatred and loathsome partitioning. It was a Spring only for those who planned it and tried to make it a reality, which is now collapsing.
The blood of martyrs protected and will protect the homeland and the region, and will protect our territorial integrity and reinforce accord among us, while at the same time purify our society of disloyalty and treason, and keep us from moral, human and cultural downfall, which is the strongest victory. When the homeland triumphs, it does not forget those who sacrificed for its sake.
I'd like to extend my salutation to those who deserve it most: the Syrian Arab army who are shedding blood and sweat for Syria which they see uppermost. Greetings to our armed forces who are fighting the fiercest of wars and are determined to restore security and stability to the homeland through uprooting terrorism.
The armed forces have wrote down the epics of heroism thanks to their cohesion, steadfastness and national unity which reflected those of the people, thus doing citizens proud and keeping them safe. Glory to every soldier who is completing the mission of his colleagues who passed away.
I salute every single citizen who did his national duty through standing by the armed forces, each from his position. Those are the pride of Syria whose names will go down in history, for they are writing history with their blood and valor.
Sisters and brothers,
I know as you all know that what the homeland is going through is painful and difficult, and I feel the pain which is felt by most of the Syrian people over the loss of loved ones and the martyrdom of sons and relatives as the fire of the grudge has reached everyone, the pure coffins of the martyrs have entered the houses of many and I am one of them because I come from the people and will remain so. Offices of state and government are transient but the homeland is everlasting. The tears of bereaved mothers will refresh the pure souls of their departed loved ones and burn the criminals, who stole the laugh of our children and here they are trying to steal their future in a safe, strong and stable country.
Syria will remain as it is and will return, God willing, stronger. There is no ceding rights or giving in on principles. Those who placed their bets on weakening Syria so that it might forget the Golan and its occupied lands are mistaken. The Golan is ours and Palestine is our cause for which we offered every precious thing, blood and martyrs. We will remain the supporters of resistance against the one enemy. Resistance is a culture, not individuals. Resistance is a thought and practice not concessions and seizing opportunities.
The people and state who bore the brunt of standing with the Palestinian people in their just cause for decades, despite all the challenges and costs that every Syrian citizen has paid materially and emotionally in terms of pressures and threats, cannot be but in the same place towards Palestinians.
Any attempt to implicate the Palestinians in the Syrian events is aimed at deflecting attention from the main enemy, and is stillborn. The Palestinians in Syria are doing their duty towards their second homeland like any Syrian. We are responsible, as Syrian people and state, for doing our duty towards them as towards any Syrian citizen. I salute every honest Palestinian who valued the Syrian stances and did not treat Syria as a hotel which he leaves when conditions get a little tight.
Sisters and brothers,
In spite of what has been planned against Syria and what has been done to us by those who are near before those who are far, they could never change us. Patriotism runs in our blood and Syria is the most precious of all. Your steadfastness over two years tells the whole world that Syria is impervious to collapse and the Syrian people impervious to humiliation. Steadfastness and challenge is deeply rooted in the Syrian body which we have inherited over generations. We will always be like that. Hand in hand we will move ahead despite all the wounds, taking Syria to a brighter and stronger future. We will move forward and we will not be frightened by their bullets or panicked by their hatred because we have rights and God is always with the right.