President al-Assad: Any cooperation, be it security, military or economic requires political consensus. You cannot maintain security cooperation with any country when there is a conflict of interests.
Le Figaro: When your father passed away, you visited France and were received by President Chirac. Everyone viewed you as a youthful and promising president and a successful ophthalmologist. Today, since the crisis, this image has changed. To what extent have you as a person changed?
President al-Assad: The more imperative question is: has the nature of this person changed? The media can manipulate a person’s image at a whim, yet my reality remains the same. I belong to the Syrian people; I defend their interests and independence and will not succumb to external pressure. I cooperate with others in a way that promotes my country’s interests. This is what was never properly understood; they assumed that they could easily influence a young president, that if I had studied in the West I would lose my original culture. This is such a naïve and shallow attitude. I have not changed; they are the ones who wished to identify me differently at the beginning. They need to accept the image of a Syrian president who embraces his country’s independence.
President al-Assad: All those who support the terrorists financially or militarily are enemies of the Syrian people. Anyone who facilitates the killing of a Syrian soldier, or works against the interests of Syria and her people is an enemy of Syria. I am not referring to the French people since I believe that the French government is working against the interests and will of its people. There is a difference between the concepts of adverse government and adverse nation. The French people are not our enemy but the policy of their government is one that is adverse to the Syrian people.
President al-Assad: The more adverse the policies of the French government are to the Syrian people, the more the government is an enemy to the Syrian people. The current policies, that we mentioned earlier, adopted by the French leadership are hostile towards Syria. This hostility can only end when the French government readdresses its policies.