European Jewish Press | 12/Aug/2008
EU Parliament head discusses EU-Syria pact with Syrian president
BRUSSELS-DAMASCUS (EJP)---The President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering discussed the future signature of a EU-Syria Association Agreement, during a meeting on Sunday in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
Poettering’s office said the meeting lasted one hour and a half and main topics discussed were the relationship between Syria and the European Union, the situation of human rights in Syria, the progress of the Middle East Peace Process, and the relationship of Syria with other countries in the region such as Iran, Israel and Lebanon.
At a press conference, concluding a four-day visit, the president of the EU parliament insisted on Syria’s "important and pivotal" role in achieving regional peace.
"All sides need peace in the Middle East, and peace won’t be realized without Syria.We wish to be a fair partner and playa bigger role in the peace process," Poettering said.
He welcomed the Turkish mediation role in indirect talks between Syria and Israel as well as the upcoming meeting between the Syrian and Lebanese presidents. He said these positive moves will also boost Europe’s ties with the region.
Poettering said that the completion of the association accord between the EU and Syria and the EU will contribute to economic cooperation.
The accord was initialed in 2004, but a final signature was postponed after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, in which Damascus was allegedly involved. Syria denied any role.