DAMASCUS – Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Wednesday criticized the West’s approach to the recent unrest in Syria, saying Damascus considers extended EU sanctions as a declaration of war against the country.
Muallem said that the recently-imposed EU sanctions against Damascus have not and will not affect Syria’s independent will.
“We will forget that Europe is on the map and we will look east, south and toward every hand that is extended to us. The world is not just made up of Europe,” Muallem told a press conference in Damascus.
Muallem rejected foreign meddling in his country’s internal affairs while stressing Damascus is keen to maintain good ties with longtime ally Turkey.
“We are keen on maintaining good relations with Turkey with which we share a common border of 850 kilometers (528 miles),” he said..
“We don’t want to wipe away years of efforts to establish privileged ties,” he added. “I wish (Turkey) would reconsider its position.”
According to AFP, Muallem denied that Syria had received any assistance from the Islamic Republic of Iran or Lebanon’s Islamic Resistance Movement Hezbollah in putting down the protests.
Muallem stressed that his country would not tolerate any foreign interference in its internal affairs.
“We can reach consensus despite opposing points of view,” he said. “No one outside (Syria) can impose on us their point of view.”
He said he did not believe the international community would launch a military operation against Syria.
Muallem also accused his French counterpart Alain Juppe of having colonial “illusions.”
“Mr. Juppe is still living under the illusions of the French colonial era. He has no influence in Syrian affairs,” the foreign minister said.
France is spearheading attempts to get the United Nations to speak out against Syria’s deadly crackdown on protests.
On Monday, Juppe said in Luxembourg that Assad had reached “a point of no return.”
“Some believe there’s still time for him to change his ways and commit to a (reform) process,” he said. “For my part, I doubt it. I think that the point of no return has been reached.”
Western governments have been circulating a draft Security Council resolution condemning Assad’s crackdown but Russia has warned it would veto such a move.
Assad on Tuesday ordered a new general amnesty, a day after an offer of “national dialogue” to end the unrest and as a huge crowd rallied in Damascus in his support.