BEIRUT – The Syrian regime, besieged by street protests at home and condemnation abroad, on Wednesday lashed out at European governments for threatening a new round of sanctions and accused the West of trying to sow chaos and conflict in the Arab nation.

But Foreign Minister Walid Moallem also reiterated the president’s call for national dialogue and spoke of democracy over the horizon — a bold assertion after more than four decades of iron-fisted rule by the Assad family and months of bloody reprisals.

It was the regime’s latest attempt to blunt three months of widespread demonstrations, a movement that was inspired by pro-democracy upheavals elsewhere in the Mideast and that has persisted despite the reported killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces. A skeptical opposition rejected the overture while the Syrian military is occupying towns and shooting protesters. Seven were reported killed on Tuesday.

An official said the European Union is planning to hit the Syrian regime with more sanctions, targeting seven more individuals and four companies in a bid to stop the crackdown against protests. That would bring to 34 the number of Syrian individuals and entities that are hit with an asset freeze and travel ban.

The EU official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The 27-member bloc also has an embargo on sales of arms and equipment that can be used to suppress demonstrations.

Moallem said the suggestion “amounts to (an act) of war” and warned “we will forget that Europe is on the map.”

“Stop intervening in Syria’s affairs, do not stir chaos nor strife, the Syrian people … are capable of making their own future away from you,” he said.

The televised statements by the longtime trusted Assad aide also went beyond the vague promises of reform made Monday by President Bashar Assad and amounted to a rare official admission that Syria has ignored basic democratic principles.

In his speech, President Assad had said he was forming a committee to study constitutional amendments, including one that would open the way to political parties other than the ruling Baath Party. He said a package of reforms was expected by September or no later than the end of the year.

Moallem added a promise that the Damascus government would soon present “an unprecedented example of democracy” in the troubled Middle East.

“There will be social justice, equality before the law and accountability,” he said, when asked about his vision for Syria in three months. But he gave no specifics.

Moallem called for regime opponents to enter into political talks, and urged Syrian exiles to return, pledging that “even the harshest opponent” of the regime will not be arrested.

“Whoever wants to test our seriousness should come to the national dialogue to be a partner in shaping the future,” he said.

But a prominent dissident rejected the idea of talks.

“There can be no dialogue when a gun is being held to your head,” Damascus-based activist Hassan Abdul-Azim said.

Responding to Moallem’s statements, the dissident Abdul-Azim said dialogue was impossible with the regime’s security forces still cracking down on dissent. “Such a dialogue would provide a cover for the security crackdown,” he said.