Monday, July 18, 2005

Syria to Shift to Multi-party System: ZAMAN DAILY NEWSPAPER

ZAMAN DAILY NEWSPAPER (2005071921873): "Syria to Shift to Multi-party System
By Salih Boztas

Syrian Foreign Minister Faruk al-Shara told Zaman, 'Turkey has been confined to Anatolia, yet the Middle East needs its leadership.'

Syria, ruled by the Baath Party for a long time is preparing to adapt to a multi-party system. Al-Shara noting the region was in a democratization phase said his country would hold democratic elections in the near future. 'The Baath party has taken important decisions. Most important among these are the formation of free political parties, carrying out democratic elections of and promoting a vote cast. We will shift to the multi-party system through a new law. The process continues. We will not return from the path of democracy.' Al-Shara who has been directing Syrian foreign policy for more than 15 years said the bill to establish a democratic system would first be presented to the public for consideration. The Syrian minister said the new law was expected to be brought into effect within six months.

The abolition of a state of emergency and the implementation of the freedom of the press are the other two important steps al-Shara announced. He said, they could not characterize themselves as a democratic state, but: 'There is no ideal democracy in the world. The urge of a decisive resolution to become a democracy is present in Syria.

The Syrian Foreign Minister also pointed to Turkey's growing strategic importance. According to al-Shara, the region needs Turkey's leadership and Ankara should mediate in the Middle East Peace Process. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been accorded full authority during his visit to Syria, he related. The centuries-old relation between the two countries was at the moment at its prime and was being strengthened by reciprocal visits, he observed.

Syria is making efforts towards giving freedom of the press. The Beshar Asad administration which had allowed the broadcast of the first private radio channel was also considering the first private TV channel as well. Al-Shara summarized the changes that will be held. 'We strive to give freedom to the press. Private newspapers and radios will be able to continue their broadcast under the context of technology and international transparency.'"

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