Syria's Assad accuses Germany of ignoring Mideast peace process

Syria's Assad accuses Germany of ignoring Mideast peace process

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Germany of not showing an interest in securing peace in the Middle East, in an interview published Monday.

"So far we cannot really discern a German interest in the peace process, particularly with regards to Syria," Assad told daily Bild, DPA reported.

"It has been a long time since we saw a high-level German official here," the president added.

Germany, which feels a historical duty towards Israel following the Nazi Holocaust, is involved in Middle East peace negotiations through its representation in the Quartet of the European Union, UN, US and Russia, as well as bilateral talks with partners in the region.

Al-Assad dismissed talk of the EU's role in the Middle East.

"The EU is no entity, certainly not politically," al-Assad said, adding that each EU member state had to be judged on its own foreign policy.

"So far, only French President Nicolas Sarkozy is putting efforts into the peace process," al-Assad said. The leaders met in Paris earlier this month.

"Your country's policies do not acquire their gravitas through your mighty economy or your military, but first and foremost through strong political will," he told the newspaper.

"But without dialogue, how do you want to play a role," al-Assad said, adding that there had been no opportunity for him to form an impression of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"(Merkel's) policies do not include dialogue," he said.

The Syrian president accused the Western world of "thinking it is the entire world and forgetting the rest."

"Syria's image in the world is very good. We have very good international relations and never had problems with South America, eastern Asia, Africa," al-Assad said.

"But our relation to the West was disturbed. It is a bit better now, but not much," the president added.

He blamed the continued occupation of the Middle East - by the British, then the French and now by Israel - for the lack of peace in the region, and saw little chance of that changing in the near future.

"The Israeli people have elected an extremist government which will not bring about peace," al-Assad said, adding that Syria would not be able to recognize Israel as a negotiation partner while the conflict was ongoing.

"You cannot recognize the rights of another, before you have been granted rights too," the president said.

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