Syria meeting of Turkey, Russia, Iran ends in Sochi
Astana peace process guarantors met for 2-day talks after recent failures of Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva
Convened to discuss the situation on the ground in Syria, the meeting of Turkey, Russia and Iran ended on Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
“The fifteenth round of the International Meeting on Syria in Astana format was held on 16-17 February 2021 in Sochi, Russian Federation,” the ministry said in a written statement.
During the meeting, “the current situation in the political process within the context of the Constitutional Committee as well as the developments in Idlib and the east of Euphrates were mainly discussed,” it said.
The meeting came soon after the recent failures of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva in January.
The Sochi meeting reaffirmed determination to support the committee’s work through continuous interaction with the Syrian parties, the committee delegates and Geir Pedersen, the UN special envoy for Syria, to ensure its sustainable and effective functioning, the ministry said.
“The Parties also underscored the importance of adhering to the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure in order to make progress in Committee’s work and to implement its mandate of preparing and drafting a constitutional reform,” the statement read.
Turkey also highlighted the necessity for a “structured work plan and methodology” for the committee to function efficiently.
Threats against the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the national security of neighboring countries were rejected in the meeting.
The statement also said the meeting underlined that “opportunistic and illegitimate attempts” in the country under the pretext of counter-terrorism were unacceptable.
“Increasing terrorist acts in Syria which resulted in loss of innocent lives were condemned and the concern on rising attacks against civilians in the northeast of Syria was expressed,” it added.
Call for implementing deals on Idlib
The parties also reiterated commitment to maintaining calm on the ground by implementing deals on Idlib, northwestern Syria. “We emphasized our expectation of cessation of cease-fire violations and attacks targeting civilians,” Turkey’s statement noted.
“The Working Group on the Release of Detainees/Abductees, Handover of Bodies and Identification of Missing Persons also convened in the margins of the meeting. The future activities to develop cooperation regarding the mutual and simultaneous release of persons detained by the opposition groups and the regime were also discussed in the meeting,” the ministry said.
In a declaration issued following the meeting, the parties condemned the ongoing Israeli military attacks in Syria which violate international and humanitarian law and undermine the sovereignty of Syria and neighboring countries.
They said the attacks also endanger the stability and security in the region and urged for an end to them.
It was emphasized once again that there could be no military solution to the Syrian crisis, and the parties stressed commitment to a lasting Syrian-led and owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with UN resolutions.
The countries also expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Syria, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They urged for prioritizing vaccination in Syria calling on the World Health Organization.
“Emphasized the need to increase humanitarian assistance to all Syrians throughout the country without discrimination, politicization, and preconditions,” the statement said, also urging the UN to enhance assistance to Syria.
Next meeting in Nur-Sultan
The meeting was also participated by delegations of Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon as observers of the Astana format, as well as the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The parties decided to hold the 16th round of the meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in mid-2021, according to the declaration.
The Syrian Constitutional Committee meetings, which started in October 2019 with 150 members, are the first concrete step to draft a new constitution to determine Syria’s future.
The Astana peace process to end the Syrian conflict was launched in January 2017 at the initiative of Turkey, Russia, and Iran.
The meetings of Astana guarantors also contribute to the advancement of the UN-led diplomatic process in Geneva.
The conflict in Syria began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.