Following are excerpts from a speech given by Saudi businessman Prince Walid bin Talal, which aired on Syrian TV on March 22, 2006.
Walid bin Talal: The pressure on Syria is heavy. We feel this pressure, just like you do. The constraints upon Syria are clear. Some are trying to portray Syrian's situation as critical. But I assure you, Mr. President, that the Four Seasons hotel is fully booked. It is full not only with Syrians and Arabs, but with Europeans, and even with Americans and Canadians.
We will continue to be fully prepared to support any development direction that would strengthen Syria economically and culturally, on both the regional and international levels.
We will mobilize all our capabilities - in the Kingdom Holding Company and the Kingdom Hotel Investments Company - to aid Syria in any project requiring management support.
Mr. President, whether they like it or not, Syria will continue to be the flagpole for the banner, which is planted in the heart of Greater Syria. But some people want to uproot Syria and move it elsewhere - but where? I don't know. Perhaps to Sri Lanka or Mozambique - I don't know.
I don't know where to, Mr. President, and I am sure you don't know either. Do you know why, Mr. President? Because they themselves don't know where. Geography cannot be shifted, Mr. President. They are weak in geography. I suggest that they reexamine their curricula.
To those who demand that Syria be held accountable, I say: Can you hold geography accountable? Can you hold history accountable? Can you hold principles and values accountable? You can try, but I advise you to act wisely, and listen to your conscience, and act according to the interests of your people.
From this podium I convey a clear message to everyone: Syria will continue to be Lebanon's neighbor, like it or not. The Syrians will continue to be neighbors and brothers of the Lebanese. I say clearly: The Syrians and the Lebanese will remain [neighbors], and we stand firmly by their side. As for you, who are ever changing and fickle, it is you, and you alone who will soon be gone, Allah willing.
Some try to make personal accusations against me, because of my strong ties with America, saying that my relations with it are excellent, in an effort to harm me, my investments, or my regional and international connections. I say to them: My relations with America are not just excellent, but exceptional. But you should know that these relations will never be at the expense of my brotherly Arab and Muslim relations, like my relations with Syria and its president.
People die, but homelands remain. Loyal positions are eternal... History will pass them by... They are not worthy of being included in history. Allah be praised, they are a minority in one of Syria's neighbors. A tiny minority...
As for Syria, allow me, Mr. President, to quote you: "Syria is protected by Allah..." Yes, Mr. President, I always follow your speeches.