DAMASCUS- During an interview with the Turkish newspaper of Cumhuriyet on the events in Syria and the latest regional and international developments, President Bashar al-Assad said that the Turkish government has destroyed most of the relations that were built between Syria and Turkey, adding that the base of this relation, which is the relation between the Syrian and Turkish Peoples, remains.
"The Arabs and the Turks have lost. It is unreasonable that now we want to go back to that stage to lose. During the past 15 months in Syria; that is, from the beginning of the crisis, we were working in more than one direction: the first direction is solving the internal crisis and combating terrorists. The second direction is preserving the Syrian-Turkish relations," President al-Assad said.
President al-Assad added in reply to a question about the Syrian-Turkish relations following the downing of the Turkish jet, "I can say that they (the Turkish Government) have destroyed most of what we built, but there remains the basis. The basis is between the two peoples…. We will work in Syria to avoid a combat which is not in the interests of Syria nor Turkey, although I see the situation is going in this direction on the governmental level only, but on the popular level, the Turkish people is aware and will not allow –as we will not allow- the situation to go in this direction. The Turkish people know that their government wants to take them into confrontation to serve private interests."
In a reply to a question about the Syrian stance on downing the Turkish plane, President al-Assad asserted that "If the plane was downed outside the territorial water, Syria then has no problem in saying so and in submitting an official apology."
President al-Assad wished that any non-hostile plane including the Turkish plane was not shot-down; however any unidentified plane and in such circumstances even if it were a Syrian plane is considered hostile. It is a military rule, not a political one, and "I think the same applies in most countries of the world."
"When the identity of this plane is not known, it is supposed that this is an enemy plane, the plane flew low and was not seen by the Syrian radar," President al-Assad said, citing the Israeli planes entry to Syria from the same corridor to bomb a Syrian military position in 2007, which were not observed by the Syrian radar.
President al-Assad added that from psychological point of view, the downing of the plane is not a pleasant thing because the Turkish people is a fraternal people and that it goes without saying as not to be happy with the downing of the plane but only if it were for the enemy which is the Israeli one.
President al-Assad said that the two pilots are a part of the Turkish military institution, adding that direct relations between the Syrian and Turkish military institutions are completely suspended.
President al-Assad also pointed that the Turkish side had to say openly what the plane was doing in the Syrian airspace, adding that the Syrian military establishment has no phone numbers for the Turkish military side in case of emergency.
President al-Assad pointed out that Turkish Premier Erdogan and his government wanted to exploit the incident as to achieve gains which they were not able to achieve last year when they failed to rally the Turkish people behind them, adding that they tried to use this issue to create enmity between the two peoples rather than between the two governments, which is very dangerous.
In a reply to a question about the families of the two Turkish pilots of the downed planed, President al-Assad said "Certainly we do feel their feelings and as long as they are our brothers, we feel that losing of any Turkish person is like losing of any Syrian and irrespective of Erdogan policies which didn't wish to the Syrian people but destruction and blood and irrespective of this government which wishes death to our people, we do wish for the Turkish people every best."
The interview was scheduled with several Turkish media institutions, but four Turkish media outlets didn't attend because Director of Erdogan's Office asked them not to.
Representative of D and CNN-Turk TVs and Posta newspaper Mehmet Ali Birand, representative of Hurriyet newspaper Ertugrul Ozkok and representative of Radikal newspaper Fehim Tastekin couldn't attend the interview.