Syrian Minister ‘We Are Not Going to Geneva to Hand Over Power’
By RUDAW 17/12/2013 – By Dilbikhin Dara and Dilxaz Bahlawi – In an important interview with Rudaw in the run-up to the Geneva 2 Conference, Syrian Information Minister Omran Al-Zoubi said that the aim of the January 22 meeting is for the government, the opposition and the international community to reach a consensus on ending terrorism in Syria.
“We are not going to Geneva to hand over the power in Syria to anyone,” he declared. The minister denied that a Kurdish issue existed in Syria, and added that, “There is no specific area for Syrian Kurds. The Syrian Kurds have their share in all Syrian regions.” Al-Zoubi also referred to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as “a patriotic force,” and said they are “playing their patriotic role in defending Syria.” Asked about the interim government that was unilaterally declared by the PYD in Syria’s Kurdish regions last month, Al-Zoubi said: “The temporary administration is announced to facilitate the daily life of people.” The “PYD does not have any political objective or separation aspirations in doing that,” he added. Here is his full interview with Rudaw:
Rudaw: You are going to attend the Geneva 2 conference, but you have said that you are not going to hand over power to the opposition, what is your agenda for the conference?
The success of the Geneva 2 conference depends on reaching an agreement to end terrorism.
Omran Al-Zoubi: The success of the Geneva 2 conference depends on reaching an agreement to end terrorism. The real situation in Syria is that the country is facing widespread terrorist attacks, which are backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. It is necessary that the Syrians, with the assistance of the international community, reach a consensus to put an end to terrorist activities in Syria and the whole Region. No agreement will have any value if the terrorism issue is not a priority.
Rudaw: Is Damascus ready to discuss the possibility of replacing Bashar Assad and the establishment of a transitional government?
Omran Al-Zoubi: First of all, the people have elected Bashar Assad. We are not going to Geneva to deliver the power in Syria to anyone. If someone wants to be part of the authority they can do that through election ballots, not military means.
Rudaw: What kind of reforms are you going to propose for the transitional stage?
Omran Al-Zoubi: The transitional stage for us means to establish a joint government with the agreement of both sides. The Geneva 1 declaration indicates that both sides of the conflict can agree on forming a government. The government can make radical reforms and this in no way tarnishes the president of Syria. The content of the Geneva 1 declaration is very obvious.
Rudaw: Do you think you will have common grounds with the opposition at Geneva 2?
Omran Al-Zoubi: There is a real force behind the president of Syria for reaching a Syrian solution. To reach a Syrian–Syrian solution, we are going to Geneva 2 with a strong and pure political will and we believe that this should start with eradicating terrorism.
Rudaw: Do you think that Geneva 2 will fail?
Omran Al-Zoubi: We want to establish a Syrian–Syrian alliance to confront terrorism, which is obviously backed by Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the Syrians have to reach an agreement to find a way to fight back against those militant groups. If Syrians do not reach an agreement on this matter in Geneva 2, they can’t reach an agreement on any other matters.
We are not going to Geneva to deliver the power in Syria to anyone. If someone wants to be part of the authority they can do that through election ballots, not military means.
Rudaw: Would you agree that Kurds participate in Geneva 2 as an independent delegation?
Omran Al-Zoubi Therefore, the Kurds have to participate in Geneva 2.
Rudaw: Are you ready to invite a delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government to Geneva 2? Because, socially and geographically, they are close to Syria and currently over 240 thousand Syrian refugees have taken refuge in Kurdistan Region?
Omran Al-Zoubi: The situation of Syria does not only affect the Kurdistan Region but it also impacts the whole region and the Middle East. Stability in Syria will reflect positively on the whole region.
Rudaw: What do you think about finding a solution for the Kurdish issue at the transitional stage during Geneva 2?
Omran Al-Zoubi: We have to understand that there is no Kurdish issue in Syria; it is a national case within Syria. Kurds are part of our nation and they have defended the nation in Latakia, Damascus, Allepo, Qamishli, Hasaka, and Derazoor. These cities belong to all Syrians and Syrian Kurds. There is no specific area for Syrian Kurds. The Syrian Kurds have their share in all Syrian regions.
Rudaw: Are you satisfied with the position of Kurdish parties in Syria?
Omran Al-Zoubi: First, these issues are internal and need to be discussed within Syria. Second, each group has its specific folklore and tradition. Syrian Kurds are part of Syria and there are Kurds in all provinces of Syria. Maybe their number differs from one place to another, but talking about the system and nature of governance after the nations is stabilized is a constitutional matter and will be discussed in a near future within a constitutional framework.
Rudaw: Recently, the Syrian ministers of oil and defence visited Qamishli. Is Qamishli under the control of the Syrian government?
Omran Al-Zoubi: Kurds are part of our nation and we are determined on that, no less, no more. They have rights and responsibilities and they have always played a patriotic role throughout the history. No one should destroy this patriotic environment that is valued in Syria.
Rudaw: Are Qamishli and surrounding areas under the control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)? What is your position on the existence of PYD in areas of Efrin, Qamishli, and Hasaka?
Omran Al-Zoubi: PYD is a patriotic force. The PYD military forces are playing their patriotic role in defending Syria in those areas that are composed of Kurds, Assyrians, and Christians. The language of segregation does not exist in Syria. In Syria, we always talk about Syrian citizenship. I personally defend the rights of Kurds and all Syrians because they all have rights. Rights are not exclusive to one part.
The PYD military forces are playing their patriotic role in defending Syria in those areas that are composed of Kurds, Assyrians, and Christians.
Rudaw: Is the border point of Tel Kocher under the control of PYD or the Syrian government?
Omran Al-Zoubi: The border point is under the control of the Syrian government.
Rudaw: PYD has announced a temporary administration in Kurdish areas. Are you aware of the project and do you support it?
Omran Al-Zoubi: The temporary administration is announced to facilitate the daily life of people and it’s for the benefit of local people. PYD does not have any political objective or separation aspirations in doing that.
Rudaw: Are you ready to recognize the cultural rights of Kurds?
Omran Al-Zoubi: Yes, you can listen to Kurdish radio in the radio stations of Voice of Nation and Voice of Youth. You can listen to programs in Kurdish and Kurdish songs and we have no problem with that. I was born in an area around Damascus that is dominantly Kurdish. Many of my friends are Kurds, I love Kurds and their tradition and I attend Kurdish events.
Rudaw: Do you have any agreement with PYD?
Omran Al-Zoubi: We have no verbal or written agreement.
– See more at: http://rudaw.net/english/interview/17122013#sthash.4TM74yUD.dpuf