SWITZERLAND: Swiss voting in pesticide ban referendum: One initiative proposes to end subsidies to farmers who use such pesticides, while another one would ban them altogether within 10 years but farmers warn the proposals will put many of them out of business
Pesticides are chemical or biological agents used to control pests.
Voting is also taking place on Sunday on other initiatives: anti-terrorism legislation, a new tax on fossil fuels and emergency Covid-19 funding.
Switzerland’s system of direct democracy means all major decisions in the Alpine nation are taken at the ballot box.
Campaigners simply have to gather 100,000 signatures to ensure a nationwide vote.
‘Intense debate won’t go away’
If approved, the pesticide initiatives would go much further than the handful of towns and regions around the world that have already banned all synthetic pesticides.
It would also be of greater global significance than the ban imposed by Bhutan in 2013, as Switzerland is the home of the world’s biggest pesticide manufacturer, Syngenta.
“I’m going to vote ‘Yes’ – we have to think about the future. Pesticides damage our health,” Geneva resident Marie Lenbaus said.
Both proposals are widely backed by young urban voters.
But Swiss farmers say they are already complying with some of the strictest rules in Europe. They have seen their jobs and income decline over the last 20 years, and now they are furious, the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Bern reports.
“You find a lot of people, especially in the cities, they have not even a clue what farming means,” said Martin Haab, president of Zurich Farmers Association.
“So, if they have two tomatoes in their garden in front of the window, they think they understand farming and they know how to do organic farming,” he said.
Switzerland’s farming lobby is strong, and the latest polls show they might just have the edge, our correspondent says.
But she adds that even if voters reject a ban, this debate over pesticides has been so intense that it will not go away. Everyone agrees the country’s pristine environment must be protected – they just do not agree on how.
#AceNewsReport – May.15: The Department of Justice today filed a criminal information charging Swiss Life Holding AG (Swiss Life Holding), Swiss Life (Liechtenstein) AG (Swiss Life Liechtenstein), Swiss Life (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (Swiss Life Singapore), and Swiss Life (Luxembourg) S.A. (Swiss Life Luxembourg), collectively, the “Swiss Life Entities,” with conspiring with U.S. taxpayers and others to conceal from the IRS more than $1.452 billion in offshore insurance policies, including more than 1,600 insurance wrapper policies, and related policy investment accounts in banks around the world and the income generated in these accounts.
MANHATTAN: ‘Swiss Life Holding AG, Swiss Life (Liechtenstein) AG, Swiss Life (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., and Swiss Life (Luxembourg) S.A. Enter into Deferred Prosecution Agreement for Criminal Misconduct; Agree to Collectively Pay More than $77 Million’
The Justice Department also announced a deferred prosecution agreement with the Swiss Life Entities (“the Agreement”) under which they agreed to accept responsibility for their criminal conduct by stipulating to the accuracy of the Statement of Facts attached to the Agreement. The Agreement requires the Swiss Life Entities to refrain from all future criminal conduct, enhance remedial measures, and continue to cooperate fully with further investigations into hidden insurance policies and related policy investment accounts. Further, as part of today’s resolution, the Swiss Life Entities agreed to pay approximately $77.3 million to the U.S. Treasury, which includes restitution, forfeiture of all gross fees, and a penalty component. If the Swiss Life Entities abide by all of the terms of the Agreement, the government will defer prosecution on the information for three years and then seek to dismiss the charge.
“Swiss Life today is held responsible for creating and marketing specially designed insurance products to U.S. tax evaders seeking a new way to hide their offshore assets, in light of heightened Justice Department and IRS tax enforcement efforts,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “Financial enablers here and abroad – and the taxpayers seeking their services – should know that we will continue to identify and unmask such schemes.”
“As they admit, Swiss Life and its subsidiaries sought out and offered their services to U.S. taxpayers to help them become U.S. tax evaders,” said U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss for the Southern District of New York. “The Swiss Life Entities offered private placement life insurance policies and related investment accounts to U.S. customers, and provided services that concealed the policies and other assets from the IRS. Indeed, the Swiss Life Entities saw U.S. authorities’ stepped-up offshore tax enforcement as an opportunity to pitch themselves to tax-evading U.S. customers as an alternative to Swiss banks. Under the terms of today’s agreement, Swiss Life will turn over more than $77 million and be required to continue to cooperate with the United States in identifying U.S. tax evaders.”
“The successful resolution of this investigation is an important victory for the American taxpayer for two primary reasons,” said Chief James C. Lee of the IRS Criminal Investigation. “First, the recovery of more $77 million owed to the U.S. government sends an unequivocal message that offshore evasion is still a high priority of IRS Criminal Investigation. Secondly, this agreement further requires Swiss Life Entities to continue to cooperate with the government and does not shield them from future civil or criminal sanctions, which should put every entity engaged in offshore evasion on notice.”
According to documents filed today in Manhattan federal court:
Swiss Life Holding is the ultimate parent company of the Swiss Life group of companies (Swiss Life), a Switzerland-based provider of comprehensive life insurance and pension products for individuals and corporations, as well as asset management and financial planning services. From 2005 to 2014, Swiss Life through affiliated insurance carriers in Liechtenstein (Swiss Life Liechtenstein), Luxembourg (Swiss Life Luxembourg), and Singapore (Swiss Life Singapore), (collectively, the PPLI Carriers) maintained approximately 1,608 Private Placement Life Insurance (PPLI) policies. The PPLI Carriers’ issuance and administration of those policies (colloquially known as “insurance wrappers”) and the related investment accounts were often done in a manner to assist U.S. taxpayers in evading U.S. taxes and reporting requirements and concealing the ownership of offshore assets.
Moreover, beginning as early as the summer of 2008, the PPLI Carriers were aware that UBS and other Swiss banks were terminating or reevaluating their business relationships with U.S. clients in response to increasing offshore tax enforcement efforts by U.S. authorities. Certain management and sales personnel within the Swiss Life PPLI Business Unit viewed these developments as a business opportunity to expand the PPLI Business by onboarding U.S. clients who were fleeing UBS and other Swiss banks. Such clients with undeclared assets were typically referred within Swiss Life as “non-comprehensive advice seeking,” which was frequently abbreviated to “NCAS.” Because Swiss Life would be identified as the owner of the policy investment accounts, rather than the U.S. policyholder and/or ultimate beneficial owner of the assets, the insurance wrapper policies could be and were used by unscrupulous U.S. taxpayers to hide undeclared assets and income and to evade taxes. In turn, Swiss Life grew its PPLI business and earned fees on those policies. Members of management of the PPLI Business Unit knew about and authorized the onboarding of U.S. clients without regard to whether they were declared or undeclared.
Swiss Life engaged in other misconduct with respect to U.S.-related policies:
U.S.-related PPLI Policies were funded or terminated through asset transfers from/to an account maintained by a third party associated with the policyholder, such as an offshore law firm or intermediary.
Swiss Life PPLI personnel assisted U.S. taxpayers in establishing and maintaining Swiss Life PPLI policies in the name of a foreign relative with the effect of obscuring the U.S. nexus of the assets used to fund the policy or to repatriate the U.S. taxpayer’s undeclared assets through a sham death payout.
Certain U.S.-related PPLI Policies issued by Swiss Life Liechtenstein involved transfers of physical gold, other precious metals, or precious gemstones into or out of the policy investment account, presumably for the purpose of avoiding detection by U.S. authorities.
The PPLI Carriers allowed policyholders to designate an authorized recipient – typically the policyholder’s asset manager or other foreign representative – to receive policy documents and custodian investment account statements, rather than having those documents sent directly to the policyholder.
Certain Swiss Life Liechtenstein personnel promoted the use of Swiss Life products to turn U.S. taxpayers’ undeclared or so-called “black” money into so-called “white” money by parking the funds in a Swiss Life insurance policy until the clock had run on the perceived statute of limitations for tax offenses.
Corporate premium bank accounts were also misused as a transitory account to help conceal the movement of U.S. clients’ funds.
Under today’s resolution, the Swiss Life Entities are required to continue to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations and affirmatively disclose any information they may later uncover regarding U.S.-related insurance policies and related policy investment accounts. The Swiss Life Entities are also required to disclose information consistent with the Department of Justice’s Swiss Bank Program relating to accounts closed between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2019. The Agreement provides no protection from criminal or civil prosecution for any individuals.
Swiss Life Holding will pay a total of $77,374,337, which has three parts. First, Swiss Life Holding has agreed to pay $16,345,454 in restitution to the IRS, which represents the approximate unpaid taxes resulting from the Swiss Life Entities’ participation in the conspiracy. Second, Swiss Life Holding has agreed to forfeit $35,782,375 to the United States, which represents the approximate gross fees (not profits) that the Swiss Life Entities earned on the penalized insurance policies and related policy investment accounts between 2002 and 2014. Finally, Swiss Life Holding has agreed to pay a penalty of $25,246,508.
The penalty amount takes into consideration that Swiss Life conducted a robust internal investigation, supplied client-related data, facilitated the acquisition by the Justice Department of information relating to custodian banks, asset managers, and other entities and individuals related to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Singapore, and otherwise meaningfully assisted the department’s cross-border tax enforcement efforts. In addition, Swiss Life conducted extensive outreach to current and former U.S. clients to confirm historical tax compliance, and to encourage disclosure to the IRS when policyholders’ historical tax compliance issues had not yet been resolved. Swiss Life further implemented remedial measures to protect against the use of its services for tax evasion in the future.
The IRS Criminal Investigation is investigating this case.
This prosecution is being handled by the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and the Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Senior Litigation Counsel Nanette Davis and Trial Attorney Jack Morgan of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas Folly and Olga I. Zverovich of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution.
#AceNewsReport – May.01: ITT Chairperson Şeref Yıldız, who has been exposed to attacks by PKK supporters many times and had to leave the house where he lived for years because of the terrorist threat, spoke to the Anadolu Agency (AA) regarding the incident:
Suspected PKK attempt to bomb Turkish NGO in Switzerland thwarted: “They put a bomb in the ITT mailbox between the hours of 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. yesterday. I noticed the situation because the lid of the box was open. I immediately called the police,” he said.
by DAILY SABAH WITH AA
Yıldız said that the police told him that the bomb was real.
“The police took the incident very seriously. Immediately, the area was cordoned off and the evacuation started. Even the entrance and exit to the town were closed. They also took us out of the building,” he added.
Yıldız stated that he gave a detailed statement to the police about the four hours prior the incident and said, “I call on the Swiss authorities to find those responsible as soon as possible and to give an account before the law. I had to leave my house in Basel where I have lived for years due to the threats. Now I have to keep my residence a secret,” he continued.
Underlining that they will continue to work without compromising on the truth for the benefit of the Turkish community in Switzerland, Yıldız said: “We live here in peace and tranquility as the Turkish community. We are pioneering the integration of the Turks into Switzerland. Such threats will not turn us away from our struggle.”
Stating that the destructive power of the bomb has yet to be determined, Yıldız added that it has been examined by the Swiss police and the investigation continues.
PKK supporters of the terrorist group have been behind attacks on Turkish businesses and organizations in Switzerland in recent months.
Yıldız had to stay away from his house where his office was also located for 18 years because his children were worried about the increasing number of attacks.
Yıldız emphasized that he believes the bomb found in the mailbox of the ITT headquarters was planted by PKK supporters.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women and children.
“Members and sympathizers of the PKK continued to be involved in legal and illegal activities to raise funds to support the group and its affiliates,” the report said.
The PKK and its sympathizers carried out many violent attacks and rallies targeting the Turkish community in Europe. Last year, sympathizers of the terrorist group vandalized mosques and shops belonging to the Turkish community in Germany. Such incidents were also reported in Belgium and Switzerland.
Turkey has long criticized European authorities for tolerating PKK activities in their countries and has pressured them to take stricter measures against the propaganda, recruitment and fundraising activities of the group. Despite its status as a designated international terrorist organization, the PKK has enjoyed relative freedom in European cities and has a particularly strong presence in Germany. PKK supporters have been allowed to hold rallies, recruit militants and collect funds in Germany, which is home to some 5 million people of Turkish origin, including Kurds.
#AceBreakingNews – #FIFA June.12: Interpol has announced it is suspending a €20-million agreement with FIFA in the wake of the massive ongoing investigation into corruption at world football’s governing body.
Interpol and FIFA struck a deal in May 2011, according to which FIFA pledged to contribute €20 million over 10 years to Interpol’s Integrity in Sport programme.This focused on“a global training, education and prevention initiative with a focus on match-fixing as well as irregular and illegal betting,”according to an Interpol statement.
“In light of the current context surrounding FIFA, while INTERPOL is still committed to developing our Integrity in Sport programme, I have decided to suspend the agreement,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
The world police body added it will “freeze the use of financial contributions from FIFA.”
“All external partners, whether public or private, must share the fundamental values and principles of the organization, as well as those of the wider law enforcement community,” added Stock.
#AceNewsReport – Post Update:GENEVA:June.10: One of the seven #FIFA officials arrested in May on US corruption charges in Zurich appealed to the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland against the warrant on his extradition issued by the country’s Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), the Office said Wednesday.
“The Federal Criminal Court will rule on whether or not he will have to remain in custody for the entire length of the extradition proceeding,” FOJ said in a statement published on its official website.
Both the official and the Federal Office of Justice may appeal the decision of the Federal Criminal Court in the Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne, the statement added.
The name of the person who lodged the appeal has not been disclosed.
#AceWorldNews – SWITZERLAND – September 24 – Swiss authorities have detained three citizens of Iraq, who are suspected of links to the terrorist group Islamic State.
The men are also accused of preparation to stage a terrorist act in Switzerland, Itar-Tass reported.
All three were detained in late March. Neue Zurcher Zeitung earlier reported that at least three Iraqi nationals are suspected of “founding a cell of the terrorist organization Islamic State and using it to provide financial and logistical support to IS.”
The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office is investigating some 20 cases involving radical jihadist terrorism.
#AceWorldNews – AUSTRIA (Vorarlberg) – September 13 – The governor of Vorarlberg has told hospitals run by Austria’s westernmost province to suspend circumcisions motivated by religious custom, citing a German regional court ruling that the practice amounted to causing criminal bodily harm.
Minor protest in front of Washington Convention Center in connection with the American Association of Pediatricians annual meeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Markus Wallner says he sees the German decision last month, arising from the case of a child whose circumcision led to medical complications, as “precedence-setting judgement.”
He told provincial hospitals Tuesday not to perform the procedure except for health reasons until the legal situation is clarified in Austria.
The decision does not affect religiously motivated circumcisions performed outside hospitals run by the Vorarlberg government, and comes a week after two Swiss hospitals announced that they would temporarily stop performing circumcisions.
On Thursday, the Zurich children’s hospital announced that it was temporarily halting circumcision operations. “We are in the process of evaluating the legal and ethical stance in Switzerland,” said Marco Stuecheli, a spokesman for the hospital.
“There can be complicated cases where the mother of a child wants a circumcision but the father is opposed to it,” he added.
#AceNewsServices – DAMASCUS – April 06 – Report from UNICEF on April 04 2014 stated that 11 children had been killed in two separate attacks this week in Rural Damascus and in Al Qalamoun Mountains in Syria is a horrific and tragic reminder of the human cost of the conflict inflicted by all sides in the fighting.
Too many children have suffered from the violence and terror of a conflict over which they have no influence. This suffering has to end and all parties to the conflict must uphold their responsibilities to protect children.
UNICEF repeats its call for those involved in the fighting, and those with influence over them, to bring an immediate end to this crisis which has not only devastated the lives of millions of children, but is creating terrifying long-term consequences for the future stability of Syria and the region.
GENEVA, Switzerland, March 11 (UPI) — With 5.5 million children suffering in Syria, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake says it’s time to bring the hostilities to an end.
The civil war in Syria entered its fourth year in March. UNICEF said in a report on the conflict the number of children affected by ongoing violence has doubled since March 2013.
“For Syria’s children, the past three years have been the longest of their lives,” Lake said in a statement Monday. “Must they endure another year of suffering?”
UNICEF said there may be as many as 1 million children trapped by the fighting inside Syria. Of the 1.2 million children living as refugees outside the country, Lake said about 10 percent of them have entered the labour pool and 20 percent of Syrian girls are forced into early marriage.
#AceWorldNews – NORTH KOREA – March 29 – North Korea’s Unha-3 rocket was built with components from South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, UN experts revealed.
In a little-publicized March 10 report, the UN Panel of Experts also discovered the rocket contained off-the-shelf parts from China and Switzerland, while Soviet-era SCUD-missiles have also been stripped down for components.
The bulk of the components had not been obtained in violation of sanctions targeting the North, the UN said, adding their utilization “shows the ability of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to assemble complex systems with globally sourced components.”
Many of the parts in question listed are widely available computer components. However, a US-manufactured video decoder, along with UK-made temperature and pressure sensors, were also recovered.
The panel noted that the South Korean parts consisting of electronic circuits and other computer parts were manufactured between 2003 and 2010. They were unable to trace the components back to the manufacturers however, due to “insufficient identifiers.”
However, placing these dual-use components on the North Korean sanctions list could prove problematic, analysts say.
“The current list of banned military and dual-use goods is already comprehensive. Adding more readily available materials to it would both risk infringing on legitimate non-military end-uses and be extremely difficult for member states to effectively implement,” Lawrence Dermody, an analyst specializing in illicit trafficking at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told NK News.
“If you start to ban items that are not in themselves offensive, but that just might be used for building a missile, where do you stop?” an anonymous source familiar with UN sanctions told the news site.
#AceWorldNews – Geneva – March 18, 22:35 – Switzerland is not planning to automatically repeat the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States against Russia, Swiss Confederation President Didier Burkhalter said in an interview with the Neue Zurcher Zeitung.
“We will take a time-out and will not act exactly the same way as the ‘X’ or the ‘Y’ alliance has acted. Switzerland is neither the EU nor the United States,” the president said, adding that Bern intended to “act impartially and maintain trust in a long-term prospect”.
Didier Burkhalter said Switzerland must be “doubly unbiased” as this year Switzerland held the presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
“Switzerland has good relations with China, the US, Russia and the EU,” he said, adding that Switzerland could be useful “as a mediator in such situations”.
After the 2008 South Ossetia war, Switzerland has been representing Russia’s interests in Georgia and Georgia’s interests in Russia.
#AceWorldNews A UN maritime commission has confirmed that 52,000 square kilometres in the middle of the Sea of Okhotsk in the Far East is now Russian continental shelf, opening the way for massive oil and gas exploration.
The enclave in the middle of the Okhotsk Sea has been recognized as part of Russia’s continental shelf in accordance with the UN Maritime Convention of 1982. So far the zone lay outside Russian jurisdiction because a part of the sea was not covered by the 200 nautical mile zone internationally recognized as area of exclusive economic interest.
“This event has effectively taken place,” Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergey Donskoy told journalists, stressing that the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf had made a “unanimous decision” which is “unconditional and has no retroactive effect.”
The minister said that from now on Russian laws are applied to all natural resources under the Okhotsk seabed. The new enclave that has been integrated into Russia is comparable to a territory of a European state like Switzerland, Netherlands or Slovakia.
The original application for the Okhotsk shelf was filed to the UN in 2001.
#AceWorldNews says that FIFA, football’s world governing body, authorized Saturday the wearing of head covers for religious purposes during matches after a two-year testing period proved they do not pose a significant risk of injury.
The decision by FIFA will allow female players to wear the veil during games and will be extended to male players after a request from the Sikh community of Canada.
Although what men will be allowed to wear will not be the same as what they wear off the pitch.
“It was decided that female players can cover their heads to play,” said Jerome Valcke, FIFA secretary general at a meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), in Zurich, Switzerland.
“It was decided that male players can play with a head cover too.
It will be a basic head cover and the colour should be the same as the team jersey,” he added.
“It’s a worldwide authorization:
It was a plus for them to have authorization from IFAB for women to be able to play (wearing head covers).
It was a request from these (Muslim) countries that said it would help support women’s football there,” Valcke said.
#AceWorldNews says after immigration vote, Swiss have to rework Croatia labour deal according to ZURICH (Reuters).
Switzerland has told the newest European Union member, Croatia, that it will not be able to sign a labour market pact as planned on July 1, following a shock referendum vote in favour of immigration curbs.
There has been “progress” at peaceful talks inSwitzerland, between Syria’s government and opposition delegations, UN Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon said in Berlin on Thursday, Itar-Tass reported. The negotiations will be suspended on Friday, so that participants could discuss talks at home, he said.
They should resume in February, however the exact date was not determined yet. International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday that he does not expect to achieve anything substantive in the first round of Syria talks ending on Friday.
#AceBreakingNews says a plane with a #Geneva2 peace talks delegation on-board has been reportedly prevented from refuelling as it landed in Athens, according to Syrian state TV.
The plane en route to Switzerland was permitted to pass through the relevant airspace and had to land at Athens’ airport for refuelling, Reuters reported.
Despite having proper clearances, the plane was still refused a refuel and the delay, so far, is three hours, according to SANA.
However, the “the issue has been settled,” Greek foreign ministry spokesman, Konstantinos Koutras, said as cited by Reuters.
“Everything is OK, it has been cleared for take-off,” he said, without specifying the reasons for the delay.
Local media reports, as cited by Itar-Tass, say that ground crew refused the refuel because the pilots had not provided the airport with any flight plans or informed them of their intention to land there.
As another reason, the media speculated that it could have been “sanctions against the Assad regime.”
The Geneva 2 conference, slated for January 22, has been on the verge of collapse.
One of the recent threats to jeopardize the peace talks was the Western-backed Syrian opposition’s demand to withdraw the invitation to Iran by 19:00 GMT Monday.
UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, retracted his invitation saying that Tehran “has chosen to remain outside that basic understanding” of the global consensus behind the Geneva communiqué.
Following the announcement Syria’s main opposition group – Syrian National Coalition – confirmed its participation in the peace talks.
President Bashar Assad said in an exclusive interview to AFP that he has decided to participate in Syria’s future presidential elections. He also stressed that the War on Terror should be the major focus of the #Geneva2peaceconference.
With the Geneva 2 peace talks starting on Wednesday, January 22, Assad set the record straight on what he and his government expect from the negotiations with the Syrian opposition in Switzerland.
“I see no reason why I should not stand [for elections],” said Assad, hosting foreign journalists at the presidential palace in Damascus.
Since “there is public desire and a public opinion in favor of my candidacy, I will not hesitate for a second to run for election,” he told AFP, adding that chances for his candidacy are “significant.”
After two days of heated debate, the Syrian National Coalition of opposition forces has voted in favor of going to Switzerland for peace talks scheduled for January 22.
Assad dismissed this stance, saying the objective to oust him was imposed on the moderate opposition by Western sponsors.
Speaking about the second major demand, that the position of PM in the future transitional government should be allocated to one of the key opposition leaders, Assad labeled these propositions as “totally unrealistic,” but “a good joke.”
“How could they be ministers in the government?”asked the Syrian president, if all they are capable of is coming to the Syrian border “for a 30-minute photo opportunity,” after which they prefer to flee.
Assad has no illusions about the conflict in Syria continuing, but he acknowledged that government troops are making a positive progress in the conflict, which has raged since March 2011.
“What we can say is that we are making progress and moving forward. This doesn’t mean that victory is near at hand; these kinds of battles are complicated, difficult and they need a lot of time,” said Assad, warning that if Damascus is going to lose the battle, that would mean the “spread of chaos throughout the Middle East.”
Assad particularly stressed that “The Geneva conference should produce clear results with regard to the fight againstterrorism in Syria.”
“This is the most important decision or result that the Geneva conference could produce. Any political solution that is reached without fighting terrorism has no value,” he said.
President Assad also ashed out at France, accusing Paris of selling principles in return for petro-dollars from the Persian Gulf monarchies.
“France has become a proxy state implementing Qatari policies. This is also what we see happening now between France and Saudi Arabia,” he said, accusing French politicians of selling “the principles of the French Revolution in return for a few billion dollars.”
What’s more, Assad claimed that all policies of the Western states and the Gulf monarchies working on exporting terrorism into Syria are essentially an implementation of a single policy of only one state – the United States of America.
“Ever since 2001 and the terrorist attacks on New York, there has been no European policy-making to speak of,” Assad said, adding that “in the West there is only an American policy, which is implemented by some European countries.”
“I don’t think that France will play a role in the immediate future, unless it changes its policy completely and from its core and returns to the politically independent state it once was,” he said, rejecting France’s playing any significant role in the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis.
#AceWorldNews latest AFP – The exiled Syrian opposition voted on Saturday to take part in an international conference next week aimed at finding a political solution to the brutal three-year year conflict.
In a secret ballot, the National Coalition agreed by 58 votes to 14 with two abstentions and one blank vote to take part in the talks opening in Switzerland on Wednesday, according to an official tally.