Published On: Fri, Dec 30th, 2016

Kazakhstan Prepares for Hosting Syria Talks

nsnbc : Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has instructed the country’s Foreign Ministry to prepare for hosting the upcoming talks on Syria, involving Russia, Iran, Turkey, and if the ceasefire that was launched on December 30 holds, Syrian government officials.

kazakhstan_nursultan-nazarbayev_2016_archivesIt is not by chance that the possibly groundbreaking Syria talks will be held in the Kazakh capital Astana. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is widely regarded as the intellectual, scholarly and political father of post-Soviet initiatives that trans-mutated the entropy of the disintegrating Soviet Union into a progressive and cohesive political plan for future and current alliances and developments.

Nazarbayev has been meeting with high-ranking Kazakh Foreign Ministry officials to prepare for the Syria talks in Astana. The possibility of such a Syria meeting was first discussed after a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey, and simultaneous talks between Russian President Putin and Nazarbayev.

The Kazakh President noted that his country “has been supporting international efforts aimed at settling the Syrian conflict peacefully.” In April 2015, representatives of the Syrian opposition turned to Kazakhstan’s authorities for the first time asking to host talks on settling the Syrian crisis. In late May, 2015, the first round of talks, involving about 30 representatives of various Syrian opposition groups, was held in Astana behind closed doors.

The meeting’s participants reportedly adopted a common document urging the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Syria and the renewal of Syria’s own army. Besides, the participants reached an agreement on humanitarian issues, particularly on establishing corridors with the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in order to deliver humanitarian aid to refugees. The opposition members also discussed a road map for a political solution to the crisis. At the same time, the Syrian opposition said that at the Astana meeting it was able to reach specific agreements for the first time.

The second round of the talks was held in October 2015. During the talks, a declaration was adopted emphasizing the need to conduct parliamentary elections in Syria ensuring international supervision and all the candidates’ safety. Besides, the opposition called for a new national government to be formed based on the election results. In addition, the participants demanded that Syria’s army, security forces and all state institutions be reformed.

A ceasefire was implemented in Syria at 00:00 hours on December 30, 2016. The announcement of the ceasefire came after intense talks between Russia and Turkey, following the recent trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Moscow. On December 28 Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu hinted that Russia and Turkey could cooperate on ending the war in Syria. Russia Turkey and Iran are also scheduled to hold talks on Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan, to be hosted by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Diplomatic sources in Turkey reported that a read map for a ceasefire and a political solution would include three stages.

  • The ceasefire between the Syrian and allied forces and the main “opposition” forces with the exception if the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other forces with ties to Al-Qaeda. Russia and Turkey could act as guarantors of the ceasefire rather than as conflicting parties.
  • Provided that such a truce is achieved, representatives of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic would be invited to participate in the talks in Astana where Turkey, Iran, and Russia would act as facilitators of talks rather than as negotiating parties. Turkey  might want to have representatives of the United Nations present at the talks as facilitators, “if necessary”.
  • Should the parties, during the talks in Astana, agree to continue the ceasefire, there would be a basis for expanding the initiative to also include initiatives to get initiatives for a political solution back on track. The so-called Geneva Talks under the auspices of the UN could be resumed sometime by February 2017 “as complementary to those talks.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu has reportedly already contacted UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss details about the talks in Astana. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for his part is reportedly discussing the situation with both Da Mistura and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Turkey, for its part, has been in contact with a number of countries to discuss the ceasefire, the talks in Astana, and initiatives to get the political process back on track. Ankara reportedly discussed the details with representatives of the governments of the Unites States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar via these countries’ respective embassies in Ankara.

CH/L – nsnbc 30.12.2016

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