Politics, World, Middle East

There would be no Astana talks without Turkey: experts

Upcoming Syria peace talks in Kazakh capital will be a 'difficult' and 'long' process, Russian experts say

There would be no Astana talks without Turkey: experts Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) attends a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after attending the Russian-Turkey Joint Strategic Planning Group meeting in Antalya, Turkey on December 1, 2016

By Elena Teslova


Some Russian experts believe the upcoming intra-Syrian talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana would not be if it were not for Turkey.

"The Syrian regime and armed opposition groups will meet directly for the first time in Astana," Boris Dolgov, a senior fellow at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

Negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition negotiators to reach a political solution to the six-year war in Syria are due to begin on Jan. 23.

Following last month's Syria cease-fire deal, brokered by Turkey and Russia, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by the two countries to promote a political solution in war-torn Syria.

"This is a serious progress and it could not have been achieved without Turkey," Dolgov said, adding Turkey had a good knowledge of the "reasoning" of the warring parties in Syria, "what they want and what concessions they can make".

"The talks in Astana will not be easy. But, we have seen similar crises successfully resolved in the past."

Elena Suponina, Middle East expert at the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies said "impressive" results were achieved in a short time following the agreement between Ankara and Moscow.

"Turkey is the only country that has enough influence with the armed opposition to draw them to the negotiation table," Suponina said, adding Astana would be a "long" process that required a lot of meetings.

Vyacheslav Matuzov, head of the Moscow-based Society of Friendship and Business Cooperation with Arab Countries, also highlighted the fact that this would be the first time the parties in Syria would be coming together "to stop the bloodshed".

"It is a difficult process. It needs not only the efforts of Turkey and Russia, but also Iran, the U.S. and other regional countries," said Matuzov.

He added that the "Aleppo example" showed that "significant" results could be achieved with Turkey's support.

Turkey has evacuated hundreds of trapped civilians from besieged eastern Aleppo and given wounded civilians treatment in Turkish hospitals.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

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