Visit of Benita Ferrero-Waldner in Syria
End production: 16/02/2009 First transmission: 16/02/2009
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the EC in charge of External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, visited Syria on 15 and 16 February 2009. During the visit, she discussed the EU/Syria bilateral relations including the process for concluding the Association Agreement that the EU and Syria have negotiated. She also discussed recent regional developments and sought Syria's contribution to solving the regional crisis.
The Association Agreement with Syria, on hold since 2004, was revised and initialled by the Commission and Syria in December 2008. The text of the Agreement is now for the consideration of Member States. Association Agreements are in force with all the EU partners in the Mediterranean, except with Syria and Libya, which whom the EU is at the moment negotiating one.
During the period 2007-2010, the European Commission is providing Syria with a 130 million euro assistance package to support economic, social and administrative reform. For the year 2009, 40 million euro will be devoted to the promotion of decentralisation, the reform of social protection and the modernisation of the health sector.
In addition to the above, since 2007, the Commission has provided an amount of 60 million euro to implement projects aiming at addressing the needs of the large population of Iraqis refugees in Syria.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General view of Damascus
||Views of Damascus (3 shots)
||Exterior view of the Prime Minister's office, by night
||Abdullah al-Dardari, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs (in ENGLISH) saying that he hopes that 2009 will be the year of the association agreement between Syria and the EU; they have initialled it for the second time, and Syria is very clear that this is the last time they will initial it, next time they will sit down for final signature; the European side informed them that the technical aspects of preparing the final signature are under way; his meeting with the Commissioner will focus on these steps and on what can be done to ensure signature before hopefully the second half of 2009.
||Arrival of Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the EC in charge of External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, welcomed by Abdullah al-Dardari
||Views of the meeting between Abdullah al-Dardari and Benita Ferrero-Waldner (3 shots)
||Benita Ferrero-Waldner (in ENGLISH) saying that the major issue is of course the EU bilateral relations with Syria; they are working on the association agreement that was initialled after updating it in the Commission; this is an encouraging moment; so she is confident that during her time as Commissioner, that means in 2009, this association agreement will be signed; for the moment, it is important to have the reconciliation process of the Palestinian factions; the EU hopes to have a government of national unity but at the same time they want to see the Arabs united on an Arab peace initiative.
||General view of Damascus, by night