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President Al-Assad opening speech at the international conference on the return of refugees

Damascus, (ST) - With the participation of Arab and international delegations, activities of the International Conference on the Return of Refugees started on Wednesday at the Umayyad Place in Damascus.

President Bashar Al-Assad affirmed that the refugee issue for Syria is a national issue in addition to being a humanitarian one. He said we  have succeeded in making hundreds of thousands of refugees return to their homeland over the past few years. Today we are still working diligently for the return of every refugee wishing to comeback home and contribute to building his homeland.

President Al-Assad stressed in a video speech during the opening of the International Conference on the Return of Refugees, that the overwhelming majority of Syrians abroad today are more than ever willing to return to their homeland because they refuse to be taken advantage of politically and to be used as a card in the hands of regimes that support terrorism against their homeland.

 The following is the full text of President Al-Assad's speech

Ladies and gentlemen, representatives of the countries participating in the conference

Welcome to Damascus, and welcome to Syria. For long years Syria has suffered from terrorism, a harsh siege and crimes of terrorism, but it remain solid and steadfast with the love and sincerity of its people.

President Al-Assad said that, I would like to express my sincere thanks to our Russian friends for their great effort and tireless work  in supporting us in holding this conference despite international attempts to thwart it.

I would also like to thank our Iranian friends for their efforts in this regard and for the real support they have provided, which contributed to alleviating the impact of the war and the consequences of the blockade.

President Al-Assad added that, I appreciate your coming to Damascus and your participation in this conference. I especially thank the countries that received and embraced the displaced Syrians, sharing job opportunities, education and health care with them.

President Al-Assad continued his speech by saying that, that a number of countries embraced refugees based on ethical humanitarian principles, however other countries in the West and in our region exploited them in the most heinous manner by turning their humanitarian cause into a political bargaining chip in addition to making them a source of money, without taking into consideration the real suffering of our people abroad.

President Al-Assad said that, instead of providing actual work for these people in order to create the appropriate conditions for their return, they were forced to stay in those countries through temptation at times, pressure and intimidation at other times, and this is not surprising, as those governments have worked hard to spread terrorism in Syria, which has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our citizens.

Therefore it is not reasonable for these counties to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees, and this has been proven by their refusal to participate in this conference.

President Al-Assad added that, if the refugee issue is a humanitarian issue for the world, for us it is also a national issue, and we have succeeded in making hundreds of thousands of refugees return to their homeland over the past few years. Today, we are still working diligently for the sake of the return of every refugee, who wishes to return and contribute to building his homeland, but the obstacles are so much , because of the pressures that the Syrian refugees are being subjected to abroad to prevent them from returning. In addition, there are the illegal economic sanctions and the blockade imposed by the American regime and its allies that hinder the efforts of the Syrian state institutions at rehabilitating the infrastructure of the areas destroyed by terrorism so that the refugees can return and live a good life in normal conditions. This constitutes a major reason why many of them hesitate in returning to their areas and villages in the absence of the minimum basic requirements of life.

President Al-Assad continued by saying that,  despite all this, the overwhelming majority of Syrians abroad are now more than ever willing to return to their homeland because they refuse to be puppets of the regimes that support terrorism against their homeland.

The President added that, the issue of  refugees in Syria is a  made up issue as Syria’s history and for centuries has never witnessed a mass exodus even though Syria, throughout its ancient and modern history, has suffered from successive occupations and continuous disturbances till the sixties of the last century, yet it has remained the place to which people flee to from  disturbances and different crises . Since the beginning of the twentieth century and the Ottoman massacres till the invasion of Iraq in the year 2003, never was there a war among Syrians for ethnic, religious or sectarian reasons, neither before nor after the establishment of the Syrian state.

President Al-Assad added that though  current conditions do not lead to the creation of a refugee situation, it was necessary for the Western regimes under the leadership of the American regime and the countries affiliated to it in our neighborhood, specifically Turkey to create artificial conditions to push the Syrians out of Syria so creating  justification for interfering in Syrian affairs and later dividing the state and transforming it into a subordinate state that works for achieving their interests instead of the interests of its people.

President Al-Assad continued that,  “spreading terrorism was the easiest way, and it started by establishing the Islamic State terrorist organization in Iraq in the year 2006 under the patronage of the US .This organization  during the war on Syria joined other terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al-Nusra and others, destroyed the infrastructure and killed the innocent people, in addition to paralyzing the public services intimidating the Syrians and forcing them to leave their homeland.”

“In the year 2014, and when the Syrian state seemed to be on its way to restore security and stability, these countries mobilized  terrorist groups with the aim of dispersing the armed forces and enabling terrorists to control a large part of the Syrian territory, the largest part of which has been restored thanks to the sacrifices of our national army and the support of our friends- this support which had played a great role in defeating terrorists and liberating many areas, “ president Al-Assad said.

The President added that, today we are facing an issue which consists of three interconnected elements; million of refugees who want to return, hundreds of billions -  worth infrastructure, built over decades , destroyed and terrorism still active in some Syrian regions.

 “The Syrian State institutions have managed to achieve acceptable leaps compared with their potentials in dealing with such a big challenge. Along with the continued war against terrorism, they have offered facilities   and guarantees for the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees to their homeland through several legislations such as delaying the compulsory military service for a year for the returnees, in addition to issuing a number of amnesty decrees benefiting a number of those who are inside the homeland or abroad,” President Al-Assad noted.

The President said that, “in parallel with and despite of the illegal siege, the Syrian state has been able to restore some of the infrastructure in many areas such as water, electricity, schools, roads and other public services to enable the Syrian refugees from living even with the minimum necessities of life”.

 “The more the potentials increase, the faster these steps will be certainly , and their increase is connected to minimizing  the obstacles represented by the economic siege and the sanctions which deprive the state of the simplest necessary means for the reconstruction and leads to the deterioration of the economic and living conditions in a way that deprives citizens of the decent livelihood, and deprives the refugees of the chance to return due to the decrease in the job opportunities”, the President added.

The President continued by saying that, “I am confident that this conference will create the appropriate ground for cooperation among us in the upcoming stage for ending this humanitarian crisis which was caused by the largest barbaric Western aggression the world has ever known in the modern history. This crisis, which at every moment affects every home in Syria and the conscience of every honest person in the world, will remain for us as Syrians a deep wound until all those who were displaced by the war, terrorism and siege return.”

The President concluded his speech by wishing the activities of the conference a success through reaching recommendations and proposals which will directly contribute to the return of the Syrians to their homeland - with their return Syria will become a better place.

Once again I thank you for attending

Peace be upon you

Raghda Sawas