Thursday, February 28, 2008

On The Wings of Pelousi

Czech Social Democrat leader meets Syrian Baath officials

Czech opposition Social Democrat (ČSSD) leader Jiří Paroubek Wednesday met senior officials of the Syrian ruling Arab Socialist Baath Party, but the talks had no "specific political content," he said.

Paroubek was reacting to the server that wrote that the Social Democrats had established contact with a brutal dictatorial party openly sponsoring terrorism and that they discussed cooperation.

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said Paroubek's trip was regrettable. "The so-called foreign policy of the opposition runs counter to the Czech Republic's interests," Topolánek told journalists in the White House.

Topolánek is now on a visit to the USA.

Topolánek said the trip had to be discussed. "While in the opposition, we never pursued any foreign policy different from that pursued by the government," he added.

Topolánek said he would prefer Paroubek and Social Democrat deputy chairman of the Chamber of Deputies Lubomir Zaoralek to travel to Syria as tourists.

Topolánek said he had been donated from U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, who was of Cuban origin, a white bracelet, a symbol for which people were sent to jail in Cuba at present.

"Upon my return, I will wear it on account of Paroubek and Zaoralek," Topolánek added.

Baath is a pan-Arab party with the headquarters in Damascus. It seeks Arab unity from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean.

It has been ruling in Syria since the 1963 coup. No parties but Baath and its allies are allowed in Syria.

Referring to the Syrian media, the server iDnes says that Paroubek stressed at a seminar on European policy that Syria had to be part of any peace process and voiced support to the Syrian right to the return of the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Paroubek said the ČSSD had consulted Czech Foreign Ministry before his visit to Syria and the delegation was accompanied by the Czech ambassador to Syria.

"As a result, all talks of the ČSSD delegation are being conducted in keeping with the Czech foreign policy official line towards Syria," Paroubek said.

Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova confirmed to ČTK that the office knew about the Social Democrats' visit to Syria.

"According to our information, these are the talks on the party level. As a result, we cannot or will not comment on them," she said.

Paroubek is accompanied by his wife Petra and Zaoralek, ČSSD shadow foreign minister.

The Syrian side invited the Social Democrats and has covered the costs of their accommodation.

The ČSSD delegation is scheduled to meet representatives of Syrian industry and trade but also top representatives of the state administration and parliament, for instance, the Syrian parliament chairman and the foreign minister.

The visit was organised by the Czech-Central Asian mixed chamber of commerce within its efforts at improving the Czech Republic's trade relations with central Asian countries, the ČSSD said.
Syria's about as geograhically central to Asia as China is to the Mid-West.

Via The Prague Monitor

Meanwhile, SANA, the Syrian news agency, reports that
Assistant Secretary General of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party Abdullah al-Ahmar discussed on Tuesday with Chairman of the Czech Social Democratic Party Jiri Paroubek means of bolstering the cooperation between the two parties.
So much for no 'specific political content'.
Al-Ahmar briefed Paroubek on the economic reforms in Syria, pointing out to Syria's encouraging investment atmosphere. He also briefed him on the latest regional development and the party's stances regarding them.

For his part, Paroubek affirmed his country's interest in pushing the peace process in the Middle East forward and developing relations with Syria in all fields.

Later, in a seminar on the European policies towards Arab causes, Paroubek affirmed that Syria is a key player in the region, adding it is wrong to overstep it. He stressed that Syria must be a part of any peace process, expressing his support of Syria's right to restore its occupied land in the Syrian Golan.

Paroubek added that his party follows a balanced policy towards all parties in the Middle East, and that it is necessary to find a peaceful resolution to the region's problems.

Regarding Syrian-Czech relations, Paroubek underlined the need to boost trade, tourism and cultural relations, pointing out to Syria's historical sites that are considered an important tourist attraction.
In another entry, SANA provided a more revealing angle
President Bashar al-Assad discussed with Chairman of the Czech Social Democratic Party (SDP) Jiří Paroubek means of further enhancing and developing the existing cooperation and friendship between al-Baath Arab Socialist Party and the SDP for the best benefit of the two countries.

President Assad and Paroubek also reviewed the latest developments in the Middle East, stressing necessity of establishing a just and comprehensive peace in it.

The meeting was attended by Assistant Secretary General of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party Abdullah al-Ahmar, the delegation accompanying Paroubek and the Czech ambassador in Syria Tomas Ulicny.

Mr. Paroubke on Wednesday highlighted Syria's active role in the region in solving the Middle East problems, calling for enhancing Syrian-Czech relations in economic, culture and tourist fields.
Amazing. Absolutely amazing.


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