Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Remembering Bassma Kodmani, a friend and colleague – Álvaro de Vasconcelos

Bassma Kodmani

Bassma Kodmani’s death is a cause for great sadness. With her passing, I lost a great friend with whom I had worked very hard for over 40 years.

She often liked to recall that her first speech at a conference had been in the early 1980’s, at a seminar hosted by the Institute for Strategic and International Studies (IEEI) on Euro-Mediterranean relations, a theme, by the way, that would unite us in the following decades.

In 2011, Kodmani fully assumed her Syrian origins, mobilizing in support of the struggle for freedom against Assad’s repression and came to assume the role of spokesperson for the Syrian National Council

Álvaro de Vasconcelos

At the time Bassma was a young researcher at the French Institute of International Relations, a country that welcomed Syrian exiles. In the following years, Bassma Kodmani established herself as one of the most brilliant analysts in the Middle East and I was privileged to be able to count on her knowledge, either at the IEEI or at the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

In 2011, Kodmani fully assumed her Syrian origins, mobilizing in support of the struggle for freedom against Assad’s repression and came to assume the role of spokesperson for the Syrian National Council. I lived closely their anxieties, their refusal of sectarianism, their hopes for a democratic future for the country of their ancestors.

During this time she was heading the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI), which she had founded, and I was an associate researcher for them at her invitation.

“The best way we can honor Bassma is to continue to support all those in Arab countries fighting for democracy and to demand that the European Union abandon its policy of supporting North African dictatorships”

Álvaro de Vasconcelos

A few years ago she participated, with her usual shine, in the cycle of Crusade Debates, of which I was commissioner, organized by the Gulbenkian Foundation, in Paris. At that time she appealed for hospitality for Syrian refugees and denounced the war crimes being committed in Syria by Assad and Putin’s troops.

Bassma Kodmani next to Alvaro de Vasconcelos at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Paris; Credit: Facebook Account

The best way we can honor Bassma is to continue to support all those in Arab countries fighting for democracy and to demand that the European Union abandon its policy of supporting North African dictatorships in the name of the supposed security they would bring.

As Bassma would say, “Europe should not be afraid of democracy for only it can bring stability and sustainable development in freedom.”

Written by Álvaro de Vasconcelos is a researcher at CEIS20 of the University of Coimbra, and founder of Forum Demos; Chevalier de la Légiond’honneur (France) and Comendador da Ordem do Rio Branco (Brazil)

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