RNA - “Erdogan is fighting alongside terrorists (in Syria) out of his Brotherhood ideology. Therefore, he himself is unable to tell Turks why he is sending his army to fight in Syria. The single reason is the Muslim Brotherhood. It has nothing to do with Turkish national interests,” Assad said in an exclusive interview with Russia's state-owned Rossiya 24 television news network broadcast on Thursday.
He described disputes between Syria and Turkey as "illogical," stressing that both nations have fraternal relations and share common interests.
“What hostile action – big or small – have Syrian people committed against the Turkish nation during the war or even before the war? There is no such a thing. There are Syrian-Turkish marriages, there are families, there are vital common interests. This mutual cultural interaction is historically determined. It is illogical that we have some serious disagreement between our countries,” the Syrian president pointed out.
Assad further noted that there would be no rapprochement between Damascus and Ankara as long as “Erdogan continues to support terrorists, adding, "He has to stop supporting terrorism, at which point things can return to normal because there is no hostility between the two nations.”
The Syrian leader then sharply criticized the Muslim Brotherhood, stating that its supporters “have no political, social, or religious ethics. For them, religion is not meant for the prevalence of virtue but rather violence. Erdogan is a member of such an opportunistic cult. Hence, it suits him to do what he has already done. Lack of transparency and never-ending travesty are part of their (Muslim Brotherhood supporters') nature.”
Assad went on to say that the Syrian society is now more coherent and integrated than ever.
“There is a simple reason for it. War is a very important lesson to any society, a lesson that extremism is destructive and rejection of others is dangerous. As a result, segments within our society came together.
“You see all strata of the Syrian society, without exception, in government-controlled areas. Whereas in terrorist-held regions, they are not looking for a single walk of life but rather the radical one. This is why only people at the far end of extremism could live together, and large numbers of people have fled terrorist-controlled areas to government-held regions,” he said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Assad described restoration of public services as the first step that the Damascus government takes in liberated areas in order to facilitate the repatriation of displaced locals.
“The second, which is equally important, is the reconstruction of schools so that they can receive students,” he said.
The Syrian president also touched down upon his country’s relations with the Arab world.
“Most Arab countries have maintained their relations with Syria, but not publicly, because they fear pressures. These countries have expressed their support for Syria and hoped we defeat terrorism. However, Western pressures and US strain in particular were so severe on these countries that they opted to keep away and not to open their embassies in Syria, particularly the [Persian] Gulf states,” Assad commented.
“Europe ceased to exist after the US invasion of Iraq back in 2003. Europe has surrendered completely to the United States, and its role has been reduced to implementing what the US administration crafts. That is why we do not waste our time talking about a European role and policy,” he underscored.
Assad finally pointed to long-established Russo-Syrian relations, and the presence of Russian military forces in Syria, saying, “The presence of Russian military forces in Syria is not simply aimed at fighting terrorism. What’s more, it is meant to create an international political balance in the UN Security Council, as well as a military balance in different arenas."
“Therefore, we view our mutual relations from two perspectives: a partnership on bilateral level and a relationship at the international scope. We hope for the further promotion of such ties as has been the case since President [Vladimir] Putin came to power in 2000,” the Syrian president concluded.