Astana group to convene digitally on Syria

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The leaders of TurkeyRussia and Iran will convene on a digital platform as part of the Astana Group meetings that aim to end the armed conflict and start a process for a political solution in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will hold a video conference on Wednesday to discuss the conflict in Syria, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

The Astana Group was founded in early 2018 and the three countries hosted summits in rotation. The next summit had to be held in Iran but was canceled due to the novel coronavirus.

The most important issues to be discussed by the leaders is the ongoing conflict in the Idlib province of Syria where a truce is in place since March 5, the return of the Syrian refugees to home and the third round constitutional committee slated to be occurred in late August in Geneva.

“The only way to give an end to the pain Syrians are suffering is a permanent political solution. A comprehensive political change in line with the resolution 2254 of the U.N. Security Council is the sole means to this end. Turkey, in coordination with its two partners of Astana Group as well as the U.N., is continuing to lead internationally to move the political process forward,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told an online donors’ conference held by the EU on Syria.

Çavuşoğlu recalled that a constitutional committee founded by equal numbers of representatives of the Syrian regime, the opposition and the civil society held two rounds of meetings in Geneva, informing about works for the third round to be convened. “We are endorsing these efforts by U.N. Special Envoy Geir Pedersen for the third round,” he said.

On Idlib, the foreign minister underlined the importance of the implementation of the March 5 deal with Russia that brought about a relative calmness, stressing, “This is of vital importance for the sake of political efforts.”

EU should honor March 18 deal

Çavuşoğlu has also conveyed his messages to the EU over the implementation of the March 18 statement between Ankara and Brussels. “Turkey did its part concerning the March 18 statement. We want the EU to fully honor this deal,” Çavuşoğlu said.

The 2016 deal stipulates EU’s financial support to the Syrians in Turkey in return of Ankara’s firmness in taking measures to stop the irregular migration from its coasts to the Greek islands.

Respecting the right of the asylum seekers is the most important principle in dealing with the migrant issue, but Greece’s treatment towards them does not abide by the universal values, Çavuşoğlu said, also slamming Brussels for ignoring Athens’ practices.

YPG ‘aims to silence Kurdish voice in Syria’

Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu described the presence of the YPG as the “most important threat” to the territorial integrity of Syria, as he talked about the situation in the eastern Syria. The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK and is considered as a terror organization by Ankara.

“The YPG is now aiming to silence the legal Kurdish political representation that will be joined to the political process,” he said. Turkey will never approve efforts to depict the YPG as the representatives of the Syrian Kurds, Çavuşoğlu said, adding Turkey was ready to work with the international community and the EU for a stable and democratic Syria with political and territorial unity.

Hurriyet Daily Newsuh

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