Parliament approved a draft law pertaining to approving a contract with a Russian company to manage and use the port of Tartous. The law stipulates that Contract No. 22 signed by the Tartous Port General Company and the Russian STG Engineering limited liability company allows them to manage and use the port.
MP Ahmed al-Kazbari said that this agreement did not violate Syrian sovereignty, giving the example of the Lattakia port before the war, which had been used by a French company, but because of the lack of adherence to its items, the contract had been canceled. The Dubai Ports company also managed three airports and ports in America.
His colleague Nasser Suleiman said that this agreement came at a time when severe development was needed to upgrade ports, so that they can handle economic traffic, especially given that the Tartous port is a source of foreign currency.
The MP Majib al-Rahman Dandan asked whether the Russian company is private or government, and how long the contract will run and the revenues the Syrian government is expected to earn. He asked whether it was a ratio or a lump sum, and if it is a ratio, then what’s its value, and what will be the cost of the rehabilitation the company will adhere to in order to restore and use the port?
Dandan added: “Will this contract allow the Syrian government to overcome the unfair American economic sanctions imposed on Syrians?” He also asked what the situation would be for the workers at the port, and asked: “Is this a preparatory step for others to sign agreements to use the Lattakia port and build a new port, as well as investing in Syrian airports?”
Dandan’s questions were responded to by the parliament speaker Hammouda Sabbagh, who said: “Our colleague Majib has gone outside the subject and the scheduled questions and the items put forward, and this is a violation of the rules of procedure for the parliament in articles 162 and 164.” He added: “Under this dome, we will not discuss what items are or are not on the agreements. We have before us a draft law composed of two articles and we will only discuss them. This is not the place for theoretical questions.”
When Dandan tried to clarify, Sabbagh said: “I gave you the right to speak, and you violated the rules.”
MP Omar Bakdash said that the contract was not clear and that the other party was unknown, and in particular that the company’s address was unknown. This pushed Sabbagh to cut him off, saying: “We are not discussing the name of the company’s owner and who runs it and if he is Russia or not.” Bakdash responded: “That’s why I declare my rejection of this agreement and I am using my right to speak.” Sabbagh said: “You had the right to reject the draft during the first phrase.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.