ROME, March 14. /TASS/. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has confirmed his readiness to hold a referendum on the future of his country and voiced the conviction that its fate should be determined by the Syrian people. The Syrian leader said as much in an interview with Italian newspapers Il Fatto Quotidiano and Avvenir.
"The war itself is a very tough lesson for every society," Assad said. "At the end you have to look at yourself and to say, ‘What’s wrong with my country?’ My agenda is to open and facilitate dialogue between the Syrians, because this is a national discussion about what’s the political system that you want. That needs a dialogue between the widest spectrum of the Syrian society, because at the end, you’re going to have a referendum regarding that point."
When asked whether he is ready to step down for the sake of peace, the president emphasized that only the Syrian people can elect the head of state. "The Syrian people should choose their president and should hold anyone accountable for any conflict and problem, not the United Nations, it doesn’t have any role," Assad said.
According to the Syrian president, Europeans are responsible for death, destruction and refugees. "We should know that part of those killings was by the hand of the Europeans, not directly, but through supporting the terrorists from the beginning, and still calling them till that moment ‘moderate’. Second, not all the people left because of the terrorist attacks or the destruction, many of them left because of the embargo," Assad noted.
The Syrian leader described the US-led Western coalition fighting against the Islamic State (IS) terror group (outlawed in Russia) a "cosmetic alliance," and spoke highly of Russia’s contribution to counterterrorism efforts.