30 March 2016
In an interview with Sputnik International, Syrian President Bashar Assad has said that he believes most Kurds in the country want to live under a centralised state.
Responding to the recent Constituent Conference held on 17 March in Hasakah, where Kurds and other ethnic groups declared their intention for a Rojava-Northern Syria Federal System, Assad said:
"The issue of federalization is linked to the constitution, a constitution needs people’s consent, however there is an understanding that a certain change is needed with regard to the Kurds’ federation. Most of the Kurds want to live within a unified Syria, within the framework of centralized power in the political sense, and not federal."
Assad also emphasised that, "we must not confuse Kurds who want a federal regime with all of Kurds. It is possible that there are people — not Kurds, there are few of them in the general scale — who are also striving for this, but the idea is that this proposition has not been put forward by the Syrian society. I do not think that this proposition, in case of it being brought up for a vote, would be approved by the Syrian people."
Stressing that they "as a state would agree to everything the people agree to," Assad said, “From the geographical perspective, Syria is a very small country for federalization to exist in it. It is perhaps smaller than most of Russia’s republics. From the sociological perspective, a federation requires that components of the society are present that may not be able to get along with each other. This has not happened in the history of Syria, but it’s the main principle. I do not think that Syria is ready for federalization, there are no natural factors for it to be possible.”
The Constituent Conference for the Rojava-Northern Syria Federal Democratic System was attended by more than 200 delegates from the three cantons of Rojava, representing more than a million people.
Commentators likened Assad's comments to that of Turkish officials, who regularly claim that the majority of Kurds do not want self-governance, autonomy or independence.