Four steps that lead to a new Syria

UAE and Germany driving forces behind the approved plans.

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ABU DHABI // A four-step plan to help rebuild the Syrian economy was presented by the Friends of Syria working group at the capital's Emirates Palace hotel yesterday.

The plan covers the immediate impact measures needed to be taken after the fall of President Bashar Al Assad's regime, donor coordination, the development of a new economic policy and the role of the business sector.

The UAE and Germany were the driving forces behind the plans, which were approved and endorsed last night by representatives from more than 60 countries.

A disposition on the economic view for the "New Syria" was presented by members of the Economics Bureau of the Syrian National Council (SNC) with the participation of members of the Syrian business community from around the world.

"We call upon all Syrians to join this critical process and support the implementation of this vision," said Dr Osama Kadi, the head of the Syrian-Canadian business council and the SNC's Economic Bureau.

A new General Secretariat which will co-ordinate the global support efforts will be led by Gunnar Waelzholz, from the German Reconstruction Bank, KfW, the group announced at the meeting.

According to the German foreign ministry official, Dr Clemens von Goetze, it has not been decided where the headquarters of the new secretariat will be based. "Proposals for it to be in the region or even Europe are being discussed. However, we need to have further discussions with the members and with our Syrian friends to see where the best place for them is to be able to work," he said.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, added that the four-step plan was not yet in its final stage.

"The working plans will be put into action within the next few months to realise the roadmap for a new Syria," he said.

Speaking to the delegates last night, Sameer Nashar, an SNC member, said the council would ensure that economic activities in Syria resumed once the regime was gone. To do this, he said, its focus would be on free trade, establishing a rule of law and good governance, preserving the functioning of public institutions, ensuring equality and social justice, restoring Syrian products to the international market and empowering the private sector and women.

"The economy will be placed in the service of all Syrian citizens," said Dr Kadi. "It will be freed from the hands of the brutal and illegitimate regime, the lootings, monopoly, and theft of public money."

The SNC also vowed to recover all of what it considers "stolen public funds" from President Assad and his accomplices.

A new tax system will be put into place to redistribute the wealth and restore services in the country.

"The state will be vigilant in achieving justice in the distribution of national wealth and the application of the principle of equal opportunity which will focus on combating poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and corruption all over Syrian territories," Dr Kadi said.