Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad speaks during an interview with Xinhua in Damascus, March 11, 2014. Mekdad said Tuesday that President Bashar al-Assad is the "real guarantee" for the security and stability of Syria, promoting Bashar ahead of the summer presidential elections. (Xinhua/Bassem Tellawi)
DAMASCUS, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said Tuesday that President Bashar al-Assad is the " real guarantee" for the security and stability of Syria, promoting Bashar ahead of the summer presidential elections.
"President (Bashar al-Assad) is the real guarantee for the security and stability of Syria (and can) lead the reconstruction process to restore Syria as a real power in this region," Mekdad told Xinhua in an interview Tuesday.
Mekdad said Syrian officials have scheduled presidential elections for July, despite international calls for Assad's departure. But he did not give a specific date for the elections.
The Syrian government has repeatedly blasted countries that called on its president to step down, saying such demands encroach upon Syria's sovereignty and the Syrian people's rights of self- determination.
The government said that Assad, who took office in 2000 and is about to finish his second seven-year-term, has the right to run in the new elections. Assad himself has reportedly expressed interest in running again.
Recent statistics show that 9.3 million Syrians lack basic necessities and 2.5 million live in areas cut off by the ongoing conflict. Despite that fact, Mekdad said the Syrian government would provide "positive circumstances" for all citizens if the elections took place.
"I can assure you that in case the (presidential) elections took place, all of the positive circumstances would be provided for every citizen to participate in that process," he said.
"We must not allow terrorism and those who don't believe in democracy to have a final say on ground," Mekdad said. "We must not allow them to fight the elections that have become a way to establish real foundations for popular democracy and determine the future of the country."
Mekdad stressed that Syria "will not kneel" to the tremendous international pressure as well as western and regional support to the opposition.
"(Syria) will stay steadfast through its people, leadership and army and its friends as well," he said, adding that foreign " schemes" in Syria will fail.
Concerning the Geneva peace negotiations, the minister said he did not have much faith that the conflict could be quickly solved within a specified time frame.
"Why do (some parties) say that the third round is going to be the last one? It would have been so useful if no time frames were set, because sometimes this would put the negotiators in the face of pressures and impossible options. So, whoever demands this, is having other goals; to eliminate the political work and to get ready for a military showdown."
The foreign minister accused main opposition groups, including the Syrian National Coalition that led the negotiations last month, as being behind the failure of the first two rounds. He also said he did not know when the third round would begin.
The first and second rounds of the Geneva II conference, which aim to reach a political solution to Syria's long-standing conflict, ended last month without achieving tangible results.
During the conference, the Syrian government prioritized counter-terrorism, while the opposition stressed the establishment of a transitional governing body.
Mekdad, who is part of the Syrian government's delegation to Geneva II conference, said the government wants to end the three- year-old crisis.
"We want this crisis to end today before tomorrow, but if others want to eliminate Syria, we must confront them," he said. " If they want to support terrorism in Syria to disintegrate the unity of Syria, we must confront them and this is the will of the Syrian people and leadership and it's the will of the Syrian army. "
More than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since opposition protesters began to oust President Assad and his government in March 2011. The country has been mired in a bloody war between the Syrian army and various factions of rebel militias.