|This article relies on references to primary sources. (June 2009)|
France–Syria relations are foreign relations between France and Syria. France has an embassy in Damascus and a consulate general in Aleppo and Latakia. Syria has an embassy in Paris. Both countries are full members of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Syria was under French occupation between 1920–1946, under the French Mandate of Syria. Since independence in 1946, ties have remained strong but relations are sometimes strained because of differences over the Syrian policy in Lebanon. Relations reached a bottom in 2005 after the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. High-level bilateral political relations between the two countries only resumed after the signing of the Doha Agreement. This change has resulted in a succession of contacts and bilateral visits initiated by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s visit on the occasion of the summit of the Union for the Mediterranean on 13 July 2008, and that of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy on September 3, 2008.
Syria is a modest trading partner for France: 71st customer and 57th supplier. A sharp drop in French exports was a result of the cooling of bilateral political relations in 2005. A resumption in financial cooperation is currently being envisaged.
As of August 2009 it was reported that Syrian-French relations strained over wheat trade.
University cooperation is the main area of French-Syrian cooperation. France is Syria’s leading partner in this sector. Eventually, 20% of Syria’s university instructors will have been trained in France. France is the second-leading host country for Syrian students: there are more than 3,000 students in France, mostly in Masters programs and in scientific disciplines.
In the area of science, France has a special relationship in archaeology, with many joint archaeological teams active in Syria.
Moreover, Syria boasts a solid French-speaking tradition, in particular in certain Christian milieus and/or with Syria’s elite. French has been growing significantly since 2003, when it became the second language required in public education.
- Syrian-French relations strained over wheat trade
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