Statement b

HE. Mr. Farouk AI-Shara'
Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic

At the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

New York, 15 September 2002

President of the General Assembly,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on your election to the presidency of the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly. We are confident that the posts you assumed in different domains will facilitate your task in leading the deliberations of the General Assembly to their desired objectives. I would also like to express our appreciation of your predecessor for the efforts he had exerted to lead the works of the previous session to a successful conclusion. I shall not fail to express my appreciation to Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, for the efforts he exerted to preserve the principles and objectives of the United Nations Charter: I wish him success in his constructive contributions to find just solutions for the problems which the international community faces. We would also like to warmly welcome Switzerland to the membership of our international organization after a long wait, hoping to cooperate with it for enhancing the principles of the United Nations and protecting its Charter.

This session of the General Assembly is being convened after a year of September attacks, which left its impact on the current international situation and the repercussions, of which here and there, had left many dangerous issues without satisfactory solutions and many questions with no adequate answers. The state of confusion, ambiguity and tension that prevails on the international scene today is essentially the result of what most people in the world sense of losing their compass as a result of what is being witnessed of an increasing tendency towards practices that are characterised by unilateralism and an appetite for hegemony the monopoly over the fortunes of others.

The Middle East is a good example of this state. After decades of struggle waged by people in the region to liberate themselves of colonialism, foreign domination and injustice which had befallen them as a result of redrawing maps and artificial borders among them, they face a more vicious attack with graver consequences than what they had faced in the previous colonial periods.

Arab countries have condemned the attacks on the United States of America and expressed compassion with the families of the victims. Nonetheless and after a year has elapsed since these attacks, which were officially linked with Al-Qaeda and Taliban, the world is wondering how these accusations are transferred to the Arab countries to threaten some of them who had nothing to do with these attacks. The irony seems to be more odd when these accusations are either ascribed to the presence of some Al-Qaeda elements in some of these countries or to the fact that they are citizens in certain countries, although it is public knowledge that elements of Al-Qaeda organization are present in more than sixty countries in the world, including the United States of America, as was cited by official American statements.

Since the end of the Second World War, our region has witnessed a series of wars and destruction which were the result of an Israeli approach based on occupation, settlement and the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of their homeland. The United Nations has exerted efforts in order to find a just solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict, and for this purpose the United Nations has adopted hundreds of resolutions which Israel refused to implement in a stark challenge to the will of international community. Israel continued its occupation of the Golan, the West Bank and Gaza and parts of the Lebanese territories. When all the Arab countries united in proposing a peace initiative in Beirut Summit last March, Israel responded to this initiative by launching a broad-sided military attack against Palestinian cities, villages and camps in the West Bank.

Israel's contempt of international legitimacy has reached a point that invoked the disapproval and anger of the public opinion, especially when the Israeli government refused to receive a factfinding mission for the massacre of Jenin refugee camp, claiming that the crimes it has perpetrated against the Palestinian people under occupation are committed in self-defense and in a war against terrorism, hence manipulating the war against Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. In this context, it is important to stress that silence in the face of this manipulation is a direct slight to human values over and above condoning the killing of Palestinian children.

Without entering into the details of Israeli attacks and violations in which American armaments were used, we see that the only way out of the crisis faced by the peoples of the region lies in making Israel abide by Security Council resolutions amounting to twenty eight resolutions. Why should the world request Iraq to adhere to Security Council resolutions, while Israel is allowed to be above international law.
It is, indeed, legitimate to ask the United States to distance itself from Israeli aggressive practices and apply to Israel the American law which prohibits the use of American weapons against a third party. It is indeed odd that the United States considers Israel acting in self-defense in occupied territories that are acknowledged to be occupied by Security Council resolutions, which the United States played role in drafting and adopting them since the foundation of the United Nations.

Just and comprehensive peace in our region cannot be achieved except by the implementation of the resolutions of international legitimacy which stress the Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, and of the safeguarding of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and including the establishment of their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

A lot has been lately said about the danger of the proliferation of weapons of mass-destruction and the possibility that some international terrorists may procure such weapons. As it is wellknown, this danger is not confined to one region; rather it includes many regions in the world. It is regrettable that some parties only focus on certain Arab and Muslim countries, ignoring in the meantime, the nuclear arsenal that Israel possesses. All countries of the region have expressed, over many years, their readiness to make the Middle East a region free of all weapons of mass-destruction. Today, more than ever before, we call for urgent and serious efforts under the auspices of the United Nations to make the Middle-East a region free of all weapons of mass-destruction. From this podium, we announce that all Arab countries are ready to establish such a zone, provided that Israel would agree to establishing such a zone, and agree to place all its nuclear facilities under the full-scope safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency as other Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East region have done.

The great majority Syria has got in its election to the membership of the Security Council, stresses the appreciation of these countries of the constructive role of Syria in supporting the United Nations, because Syria has always been in the forefront of countries for whom the respect of international legitimacy constituted a principled position in its foreign policy. We agree with the Secretary-General about the necessity of avoiding unilateral measures and resorting instead to working within the framework of the United Nations which represent international legitimacy.

In this light, we see no justification for igniting a new war in the Middle East. We strongly believe that striking Iraq, who no longer occupies the lands of others, while keeping silent about the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories, occupied since 1967, represent the blind bias and the distorted vision of the real situation in the Middle East.

The international community has committed itself to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. We cannot recall anyone doubting this commitment. We also stress here that it is the right of the Iraqi people alone to decide their future without any interference in their internal affairs. It is the duty of all members of our Organization to commit themselves to the implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations. In keeping with this commitment, Syria supports the resumption of dialogue between Iraq and the Secretary-General of the United Nations with the objective of reaching a political solution that responds to the requirements of the Security Council and grants hope to the Iraq for peace, security and the lifting of sanctions imposed on it, especially as Iraq has officially recognized the state of Kuwait and its international borders.

Syria has expressed its satisfaction over a number of positive developments in the African continent. We are confident that the announcement of the establishment of the African Union will have a positive impact on the present and future of this continent and on solving the urgent problems it faces. In this regard, we look forward in true hope to the implementation of agreements which were lately signed among the parties concerned to end fighting in Angola, Congo and the Great Lakes region.

Syria also expresses its satisfaction with the increasing international support to end the blockage against Cuba.

Syria also welcomes the talks that were convened at the highest level between the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea and expresses the hope that this rapprochement between the two Koreas will achieve the aspirations of the peoples of Korea in peaceful means.

The Syrian Arab Republic also hopes that peace and stability shall prevail in Afghanistan in the interest of the Afghani people, who have suffered for a long time from the scourges of war and strife.
Syria supports the efforts exerted by the government of the Sudan to preserve the unity and territorial integrity of the Sudanese people and calls for a cease-fire in the South of Sudan as a prelude to the resumption of dialogue.

Syria supports "Artah" agreement reached by the Somalis and deems it the most viable solution to achieve national reconciliation in Somalia.

In conclusion, it has to be briefly stated that the peoples of the globe are passing through a difficult test in this critical juncture, and that the choices of countries, even big and influential ones, are getting tighter rather than broader due to the absence of a just world order. It is to be regretted that the voices of those who call for war rise above the voices of those who call for peace and those who usurp the rights of people and encroach on their dignity, are drowning the voices of those who defend the rights of people in their territory and freedom. But despite this grim picture, right will, in the final analysis, triumph over injustice. This is the correct reading of the history of nations and civilizations; there is no going back. The belief of Syria in its rights and the rights of other nations cannot be shaken or undermined by the hegemony of power. We believe in the possibility of building a world in which all coexist in peace and security, a world free of occupation and hegemony, a world in which all peoples equally share the resources of our globe and the fruits of science and technology in order to achieve prosperity for all.

Thank you.