The Late President Hafez Al-Assad's Address to the Parliament on taking the Constitutional Oath for a Fifth Presidential Term on March 11,1999
President Hafez Al-Assad, the builder of modern Syria, delivered the following speech at the People’s Assembly on the occasion of taking the constitutional oath of office for a fifth constitutional term, March 11, 1999. This speech, according to different analyses and readings, can be considered as the beginning of the Syrian March on the way of the 1970- Correction Movement, as to initiate the process of Reform and Modernization, masterfully masterminded and led now - notwithstanding the unjust pressures put on Syria by some countries- by His Excellency, President Bashar Hafez Al-Assad:
I congratulate you on the confidence that has been entrusted in you by the people. It is precious confidence and a heavy responsibility to bear. I do not doubt that this great task of serving the people will require you all taking part in legislation and supervision. It also pleases me that your People’s Assembly (PA) will be a true representation of the various social strata in our country. Its members empathize with various social, cultural and economic groups. I, also in particular, express satisfaction regarding the increase in the number of women in this legislative session. I am hopeful that this increase will continue to grow, to allow women to seriously participate in formulating life in our country. A worthy participation. It also pleases me to meet you, after our people granted me their unanimous confidence which comes as a marvellous manifestation of our national unity and internal strength.
“We have moved from a position of weakness into a state of power and dignity. Syria has become able to carry out her national role and preserve national independence.”
Renewing the constitutional term of office on the 10th of last February was mutual pledge between me and our people, who have entrusted in me their confidence, love and support. The past three decades have been filled with successful work and prosperous hope. We face up to difficulties and then we eliminate them. We have achieved tremendous achievements and now we are enjoying them. We have moved from a position of weakness into a state of power and dignity. Syria has become able to carry out her national role and preserve national independence.I pledge, in my capacity as leader of this country to be the keeper of this precious confidence. And to this forum, I once again extend my thanks and love to every citizen stressing determination to continue the struggle in order to meet the ambitions of our people and the continued struggle for the rights of the Arab nation.
“Syria has built a solid base which has enabled her to move towards a brighter future. Our confidence, from the very beginning, was that caring about people should be to the forefront of our priorities.”
During the last 30 years we have realized great achievements in various walks of life. In the building of a sound economy, services, education, culture, sciences and the arts. Syria has built a solid base which has enabled her to move towards a brighter future. Our confidence, from the very beginning, was that caring about people should be to the forefront of our priorities. We worked to consolidate our material structure by constructing a strong national base, despite being besieged by problems and complexities imposed by regional and international conditions.
“We established our democratic system based on the needs of our people, and their economic, social and cultural conditions.”
Therefore, we have chosen a people’s democracy. We established our democratic system based on the needs of our people, and their economic, social and cultural conditions. This stemmed from their belief in freedom and pride in their own dignity. Every citizen has become a partner in decision-making and in bearing responsibility. In the village, in the city, in the factory as in the farm, in various careers and at the university. All these are linked to the process of consolidating the multi-party system and establishing the Progressive National Front. Expanding the circle of decision making and freedom of discussion and participation is the guarantee to achieve the democratic process. In light of this, discussions in all establishments are but a positive and constructive phenomenon. Dialogue and discussion are the best ways to disseminate thoughts and push forward towards shouldering the responsibility; hence, I would indicate that democracy is not the citizen practicing his right in electing his representatives to the institutions. It is rather these institutions carrying out their role according to the constitution and the law. Any reluctance by any institution in carrying out its role and shouldering its responsibility and not taking relevant decisions, will weaken the country and its people’s democratic system. Cooperation between the PA, the Government, the Local Administration councils and the governmental institutions is a basic matter, but not to be at the expense of a role to be played by any of their institutions, especially the PA, which has effectively to carry out its role in supervision and following up matters. The PA’s carrying out of its role is not only an expression of a true democracy, but it is also a guarantee for the government to be well advised.
Mr. Speaker of the PA, the PA members,
“There are still some areas that should be dealt with to modernize the State and enable it to perform its tasks in serving the people and ensuring their needs.”
Despite the great efforts we have exerted to develop the State’s systems and institutions, there are still some areas that should be dealt with to modernize the State and enable it to perform its tasks in serving the people and ensuring their needs. We notice that besides those who devote themselves sincerely and with a sense of responsibility, there are others who have lost the sense of responsibility. They have neglected their duties, performed badly or made mistakes. The State cannot progress if such cases continue. Modernizing the State requires that every worker in the State, whatever his position, should shoulder his full responsibility. Developing work in the State’s bodies and establishments is an ultimate need and a national responsibility, so that the gap between us and others will not be enlarged. This is in order to be competent partners in all that is going on in political and economic developments in the Arab homeland and in the world.
“We are committed to comprehensive development as a national responsibility to the State and society. We have developed agriculture and industry, built dams, big industrial installations, set up economic pluralism, encouraged talents, given opportunities to all to contribute to society’s development. We have created solid economic and social base which has enabled us to complete our infrastructure, such as, electricity, roads, dams, potable water projects, schools, universities, hospitals, medical centers, social educational, cultural and health services,”
Since November 1970, we have paid a great attention to the national economy and built an economic base upon which the progress of society and the country’s growth have relied. We are committed to comprehensive development as a national responsibility to the State and society. We have developed agriculture and industry, built dams, big industrial installations, set up economic pluralism, encouraged talents, given opportunities to all to contribute to society’s development. We have created solid economic and social base which has enabled us to complete our infrastructure, such as, electricity, roads, dams, potable water projects, schools, universities, hospitals, medical centers, social educational, cultural and health services, which have all contributed to raise our people’s living standards and meet their material and spiritual needs. These big achievements push us to exert more effort and to shoulder responsibility and to realize social and economic increases which enables us to be competent partners in this world, strongly defending our rights and future.
In the next stage, we have to concentrate on balance in the national economy by working to increase production, expand the base of development and investment, reconsider Investment Law in order to close the gaps which prevented maximum benefit from it and make new investments. We believe that developing and modernizing banking systems has become an urgent and necessary requirement. The government, in the next stage, should continue to develop agriculture, modernize agricultural investment methods, reduce production costs, discover new markets for agricultural products, so that this huge production will be turned into a supply source for the economy and not a burden on it. Also points of failure should be tackled in the process of land reclamation and dam building which have caused long delays in finishing the projects and increasing the costs ratio really, something which has caused the loss of additional revenues to the country. The economic public sector constitutes the national economy’s major base and a factor of economic and social balance. This requires attention in order to be able to achieve national and economic targets. On this basis, the government, in collaboration with the Workers General Federation, should study the condition of this sector on the basis of liberating its companies from administrative and financial bonds that hinder its development, to draw up financial and administrative systems which enable the companies freedom of work and movement since it is an independent person working within the framework of the State’s general plan and to work for upgrading this sector’s administrative, vocational and technical qualifications of its workers.
“I call upon all Arab officials everywhere to adopt brave and responsible stances capable of reviewing the Arab situation critically and objectively with a view to setting up a new course of inter-Arab relations conducive to ending the state of conflict and to reaching the state of cooperation and solidarity.”
What makes us anxious today is the state of the Arab nation, their weakness, divisions and conflicts, fear of each other, fear of all the foreign dangers threatening them and working to impose hegemony and control on the Arab homeland, besides the Israeli aggression. Narrow regional interests surpassed pan-Arab interests and hence foreign forces were able to impose hegemony, and Israel was allowed to go on launching aggressions, to the extent that the Arabs were about to lose the potential for progress. During the 1940s and the 1950s, the Arabs aspired for liberation and achieving Arab unity. In the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, the Arabs’ aspiration was to realize Arab solidarity. Today’s aspiration is to end the state of in-fighting and inter-differences. Any Arab, whether an official or an ordinary citizen, cannot say that such a painful state of affairs may ensure security and stability and guarantee a decent living. There were great mistakes committed by either this or that brotherly state, and those mistakes have actually left deep wounds. But for how long and what is the final objective. Is it in the interest of any Arab official to generate these disputes for forthcoming generations and what is the price we pay and those generations will pay. I call upon all Arab officials everywhere to adopt brave and responsible stances capable of reviewing the Arab situation critically and objectively with a view to setting up a new course of inter-Arab relations conducive to ending the state of conflict and to reaching the state of cooperation and solidarity.
“Some talk about making peace with Israel while we refuse peace between us. Peace with Israel will not be achieved unless peace is materialized among the Arabs.”
With my deep appreciation for the pain suffered by each party, great pains befall on us all, and the wounds we are all suffering should urge us to overcome the lesser pain in order to get rid of the greater pain. Some talk about making peace with Israel while we refuse peace between us. Peace with Israel will not be achieved unless peace is materialized among the Arabs. As she is fully aware of and deeply concerned over the current situation of the Arab nation and the dangers coming out of the continuation of this situation, Syria will continue seriously to work for attaining Arab solidarity, seeking a way-out of the current situation and founding new controlled bases for Arab relations guaranteeing to reach some agreement and to re-mount the struggle for building-up and progress.
“We have spent years of negotiations with Israel and achieved some progress with the participation of the US on both sides’ agreement on two main issues: pullback to pre 1967 lines and principles of security arrangements.”
All the efforts we have exerted and those made by the international community to establish a just and comprehensive peace based on Madrid’s terms of reference have not achieved objectives yet due to Israeli policies which have refused to abide by peace obligations, and are adamant to pursue the policy of settlement and annexation. We have spent years of negotiations with Israel and achieved some progress with the participation of the US on both sides’ agreement on two main issues: pullback to pre 1967 lines and principles of security arrangements.
“We are confident of restoring our occupied land in the Golan regardless of time, the might of aggressors and the circumstances of the Arabs.”
But the current Israeli government has obstructed the agreement by refusing to resume negotiations from the point where they had stopped at and by rejecting what was concluded with the previous government. Peace is indispensable for all in as much as it eliminates all causes of wars, tension and hostility, returns the territories occupied in 1967 and the Lebanese territory totally and recognizes the Palestinian people’s national rights. Any other peace is a surrender which will not be accepted by Syria and which will neither ensure security for Israel nor maintain stability in the region. The Israelis should realize that their current policies towards the Arabs cannot bring security for them nor peace to the region. The force allows launching aggression but can’t ensure security and tranquility. The conception of force is relative in time and place, and the elements of force are not static. What is going on in the occupied territories is vivid evidence, and whatever the might of this force possessed by the aggressors, it will remain weaker than the will of the people and their determination to end aggression and liberate the territories. We are confident of restoring our occupied land in the Golan regardless of time, the might of aggressors and the circumstances of the Arabs.
“Today’s world is likely to be converted into a forest where force dominates and the norms, principles and values for which nations have struggled are absent. No doubt that the absence of discipline, weakening the UN role and the imposition of hegemony on "third world" resources threaten peoples of the loss of freedom in achieving self-determination and determining their options. Nevertheless, the forces of hegemony talk about human rights while they are grossly violated.”
What is taking place in today’s world under the absence of the international balance is the domination of unilateral pole, the double criterion, the hegemony of monopolist superpowers, the great evolution in communications and informatics, the increasing gap between rich states and developing nations, the breaking out of regional wars and ethnic and clan conflicts in different parts of the world, the economic and cultural doctrine of globalisation, the destruction of national borders and peoples’ identities and the stereotyping of peoples’ lives, conducts, moralities and priorities are altogether arousing fear and worries among nations. Today’s world is likely to be converted into a forest where force dominates and the norms, principles and values for which nations have struggled are absent. No doubt that the absence of discipline, weakening the UN role and the imposition of hegemony on "third world" resources threaten peoples of the loss of freedom in achieving self-determination and determining their options. Nevertheless, the forces of hegemony talk about human rights while they are grossly violated.
The call of the Non-Aligned Movement, China, France and Russia for a multi-polar system is a sign of the state of fear and worry, which is grave, if the unilateral hegemony goes on. It may yield new conflicts having extensions in economic wars and in instigating regional fighting, and only then will the world lose security, stability, justice, equality and freedom. Within the Arab, Muslim and Non-Aligned frameworks, we shall work to push out the mischief of the international lawlessness and its dangers on developing countries and world peace and security. We shall continue to work for developing our international relations in serving our national interests. We shall go on making dialogue with the European Union to set up a partnership in line with equal grounds serving interests of both sides. We shall also work for enhancing the role of the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement and for investing our world relations to serve our rights and objectives.
Mr. Speaker of the People’s Assembly and Assembly Members,
“The homeland is a question of destiny, of the present and of the future. Let’s work to safeguard the home irrespective of great sacrifices.”
We have many duties to carry out in the forthcoming stage. The duties are demanded by the stage’s circumstances inside and outside the country. Our success in achieving those duties is connected with faithfulness in words and deed, with abidance by national responsibility, with seriousness in action, with self-confidence and with the love of the homeland. The burdens shouldered by Syria in the current stage require high degrees of responsibility. The homeland is in need of much work, much sweat and blood of each citizen. The homeland is a question of destiny, of the present and of the future. Let’s work to safeguard the home irrespective of great sacrifices. I promise citizens to be always with them in shouldering the home’s burdens.
May God help us all in doing what is right and what is good