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Assad says Russia never exerted pressure on Syria

Assad said Russia’s help to Syria had stemmed exclusively from the fight against terrorism, not from support for certain personalities

MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. Russia has never put any pressure on Syria, President Bashar al-Assad said in a televised interview with Russia’s Rossiya 24 channel on Wednesday.

"In the 60-year-long historical relationship between Russia and Syria up to today’s meeting, there has never been a single moment when our Russian friends were trying to pressure us on any issue, regarding Syrian sovereignty in their view," al-Assad said. "They constantly talk to us always willing to give their opinion or a piece of advice."

The Syrian president defined the fundamental principle of Syria’s relations with Russia, saying, "It is your homeland after all and you are to decide which solution is correct and admissible to you."

"In general, the character of the Russian state is not apt to pressurizing," al-Assad said, emphasizing that Russia’s help to his country had stemmed exclusively from the fight against terrorism, not from support for certain personalities.

"Had our Russian friends found out that we fought this war pursuing our own goals linked to the president and government, they would have given us advice," he added. "Nevertheless, they, as well as we, realize the danger of terrorism spreading around the world and would not give us advice that would be working against us."

Earlier, Western leaders had repeatedly urged Moscow to exercise its influence on Damascus to halt hostilities on Syria. 

On Syria's constitution 

No referendum on constitutional changes can be held during war, Bashar al-Assad has pointed out. 

"No plan for amending the constitution can be implemented during war because it would be impossible to hold a referendum," the Syrian president noted.

"Most of our citizens reject the possibility of sacrificing the country’s territorial integrity or its current political system. When I say ‘most’ I mean the vast majority of the Syrians," Assad noted.

According to him, the war on terror remains Syria’s priority task.