PRESIDENT OF SYRIA BASHAR AL-ASSAD (as translated from Russian): Mr President, let me welcome you again to the Syrian Arab Republic — welcome both as a friend and as the head of a friendly nation.
Relations between our two countries, relations between the two friendly nations have 66 years in history. And these relations have always been marked by mutual confidence, mutual respect, and mutual help. Many Syrians studied first in Soviet and later in Russian universities and then returned home to help develop Syria’s economy. Thousands of Soviet and Russian specialists came to our country to help us build infrastructure, dams, roads, etc. Therefore, we have a great experience that continues to yield result and is important both to Russia and Syria. This is the humanitarian basis on which we want to build our relations with the Russian Federation.
Of course, I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the unwavering support your country renders to the Syrian Arab Republic as far as Syria’s inherent rights are concerned. During this visit we hope to discuss a great deal of issues and areas where our cooperation could be even closer.
Russia has always promoted a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. We continue to be committed to that goal and are ready to further assist in this matter as it is crucial for us.
Naturally, we are interested in further developing trade and economic relations between our countries. Unfortunately, the global financial crisis has had a negative impact on those ties. Nonetheless, we very much wish to advance the trade and economic dimension, in particular deepening ties in such fields as oil and gas, power industry, and others.
Naturally, I could not miss this opportunity to voice our firm condemnation of the terrorist acts your country has suffered these past years.
The Russian people are a friendly and peace-loving people. Let me assure you that we have always been with you and will continue to be with you, and firmly reject anything that goes against the interests of the Russian Federation and its people.
Mr President, let me once again welcome you in the Syrian Arab Republic.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, it is with great pleasure that I took on this visit to the Syrian Arab Republic, the first in the history of our countries, despite the fact that, as you rightly noted, diplomatic relations between our countries have over 66 years of history, though the relations between our peoples in general are much older, of course.
You said that these relations have always been special; I would like to confirm that. We indeed have friendly and partnership relations. That has always been the case. And even at the beginning of Syria’s history as an independent country, our nation helped Syria to develop not only economically but also politically. Let’s recall that Russia’s first-time use of such a specific instrument of international relations as its right to a veto in the UN Security Council was again on a Syria-related issue. That means we were always together; I believe that should continue in the future.
Indeed since that time, a lot of good things have happened, glorious pages, as is often said, have been written: the joint construction of infrastructure projects in Syria, and a very large number of Syrian specialists who got their training in the Soviet Union. We believe that is our common capital.
Today we will discuss our economic and humanitarian cooperation. Indeed our relations have been developing lately. The global financial crisis has affected them, of course, and our trade turnover has decreased, but I believe it is within our power to get it back on the development track. We will certainly discuss foreign policy issues. Already yesterday during our brief meeting and over dinner we discussed a whole range of issues, including the most urgent one, the Middle East conflict. Russia’s position on this issue has always been active, and we will keep it that way.
Thank you for your words of support in connection with the terrorist acts against Russia. We appreciate that. Terrorism is a global challenge, and we are ready to join forces to fight this scourge. In that regard, a lot depends on our efforts.
Mr President, we are people of the same generation. Today we are laying the foundations for further cooperation, I hope, for years to come. A whole range of documents will be signed. We will hold intensive talks. Let me say that we in Russia are very happy with that.
Thank you once again for the invitation to officially visit Syria.