Moallem on EU sanctions: Syria will remain steadfast

Syrian FM responds harshly to measures against Syria which include four firms linked to the armed forces, people connected with the suppression of anti-government protests.

By REUTERS
June 22, 2011 15:31
2 minute read.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.

Syria's Walid Moallem 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem responded on Wednesday to sanctions issued against Syria by the European Union. "We will forget that Europe is on the map, and we will turn to the east, to the south and all directions that extend a hand to Syria. The world is not only Europe. Syria will remain steadfast."

Moallem continued to scorn the European Union's dismissal of his president's promises of reform on Wednesday, saying it showed Europe wanted to sow chaos in the country and threatening to turn to other regions for trade and support.

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The Syrian foreign minister also said he was confident that despite mounting international pressure on Syria, three months into an uprising against the Assad family's 40-year rule, there would be no foreign military intervention in his country, nor a no-fly zone of the kind NATO has imposed over Libya.

EU states extended sanctions against Syria on Tuesday to include four firms linked to the armed forces and to more people connected with the suppression of anti-government protests. Before the uprising, Syria had been courted by Western nations hoping to weaken its strategic alliance with Iran.

"The reactions from European Union officials to President Assad's speech - they have a plan and they want to continue with it, to sow strife and chaos in Syria," Moallem told a news conference in Damascus.

Reuters monitored the televised broadcast from outside the country, since Syria has expelled its correspondents.

Russia and China, both veto-holding members, have refused to back a United Nations Security Council resolution, proposed by European powers, which would condemn Syria for its crackdown on protesters.

In a speech on Monday, only his third since the outbreak of protests in which rights groups say 1,300 civilians have been killed, Assad promised reforms and called for national dialogue.

Many Syrians and world leaders dismissed his pledges as inadequate. Violence continued on Tuesday with the killing of seven people by gunmen in two cities during rival protests by Assad loyalists and opponents, an opposition activist said.

Moallem said his country would not accept demands from "outside Syria."

He urged Turkey, once a close ally but now an increasingly vocal critic of Assad, to reconsider its frosty response to his speech and said Syria wanted the "best relations with Turkey."

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