The foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran, Sergey Lavrov, Mevlut Çavuşoğlu and Mohammad Javad Zarif, have stressed continuity of their efforts to have a positive impact on the resolution of the Syrian war and decreasing violence. As Daily Sabah writes in the article Turkey, Russia, Iran to continue efforts for solution to Syrian crisis, the three guarantor countries published a joint statement on Friday after the trilateral meeting in the Kazakh capital of Astana, citing their "commitment to territorial integrity and the independence of Syria."
The statement said: "The progress prompted by the eight meetings in Astana is welcomed" and added that there is a need for momentum to find a political solution. It also said that the next meeting in Astana would be held in mid-May.
Speaking at a joint news conference in Astana after the meeting, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called for a cease-fire in Eastern Ghouta, as many civilians have lost their lives in the latest attacks. "I talked with my two counterparts to make the situation better in Eastern Ghouta, which was caused by the [Syrian] regime. We underlined the need to differentiate terrorists from civilians," Çavuşoğlu said.
He said that there is a need to have different strategies for neutralizing terrorists, especially in places with dense civilian concentrations. "We are also against all terrorists going to Idlib. There they constitute a threat to the people, the opposition and all of us," he said. "We welcome the efforts of Russia in providing humanitarian aid, but we need to stress that it is insufficient. We need to be more determined to immediately convey humanitarian aid to the regions regardless of the besieged areas without obstacles."
Çavuşoğlu said they are sensitive to civilians in Eastern Ghouta, al-Foua, Kefraya and east of the Euphrates River. He said that a lasting solution is required for the Syrian war and that the situation on the ground is better now when compared to previous periods with the de-escalation zones created with the Astana process.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the significance of the Astana talks and added that "some countries that want the partition of Syria cannot accept the cooperation between Turkey, Russia and Iran. "This meeting proves that we want to cooperate to resolve the Syrian crisis." Lavrov also said that the three parties agreed on the upcoming summit, which will be held on April 4 in Istanbul. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Tehran considers the Astana process as the only successful step to stop the war in Syria.
Turkey, Iran and Russia launched a Syrian peace process in Astana to complement the U.N.-brokered talks in Geneva to bring an end to the seven-year conflict in the country. The three countries held a series of summits in Russia's Black Sea city of Sochi, to bring together the conflicting parties in Syria.
Last year, Turkey, Iran and Russia agreed in Astana to establish de-escalation zones in the northern province of Idlib and parts of neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo.
Under the Astana agreement, Turkey is to gradually establish 12 observation points from Idlib's north to south to monitor and sustain the current cease-fire agreement for the de-escalation zones, deliver humanitarian aid and ensure the secure return of displaced people. In the Astana meeting, the foreign ministers of the three countries pointed to the positive results of the de-escalation zones and decided to continue with the process.
Meanwhile, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, following the Astana talks, Sergey Lavrov also stated that the success of collective efforts made it possible to bring closer the complete elimination of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations designated as such by the UN Security Council. He also noted, that the unreasonable attempts to belittle and even nullify the significance of the Astana process were undertaken in the past and are still undertaken ”by those who do not accept the fact of the partnership between Russia, Turkey and Iran, and those who would like to prevent the preservation of Syria as an integral state and wants to turn this most important country into another territory of chaos, where it is convenient to engage in geopolitical games. Against this adventurous line, the three guarantor countries firmly demonstrate their unchanged adherence to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, that is, the fundamental principles enshrined in the UN Security Council resolutions, primarily in the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. These most important principles were clearly confirmed by the representatives of all segments of the Syrian society during the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue held in Sochi in January this year, which was convened at the initiative of the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran. Today we agreed to continue our assistance to Syrians in restoring the unity of the country and the achievement of a political settlement, including through the creation, as was agreed at the Congress in Sochi, of the Constitutional Committee and the launch of its work in Geneva in the near future. At the same time, we support firmly a political process, led and implemented by the Syrians themselves. As the UN Security Council has decided, Syrians themselves must conclude negotiations without the outside interference. Syrians themselves will determine the future of their country. "
According to Lavrov, the further coordination of Russia, Iran and Turkey’s efforts as the three guarantor countries is especially important today, when the situation in Syria in areas such as Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, al-Foua and Kefraya, Rukban, Rakka, in the provinces of Idlib and Hama has seriously worsened: "There is a one-sided reading of the situation around Eastern Ghouta, familiar to us due to Eastern Aleppo. It is evident that some of our Western colleagues are trying to get out of the stride and save the combat potential of terrorists, primarily Jabhat al-Nusra, who act as provocateurs of the Western geopolitical actors who are guided by anything but the interests of the Syrian people.The constant bombardment of Damascus, which killing civilians, blocking convoys with humanitarian aid, despite the daily humanitarian breaks introduced since 27 February, not only keep the capital of Syria at bay , but also give a rise to the far-fetched accusations of the Syrian authorities, as well as Russia, in insufficient actions to implement the provisions of UN Security Council resolution 2401. We remind you that any use of force against Damascus on the basis of far-fetched pretexts is unacceptable. The recent threats of the unilateral military strikes against Syria, including Damascus, as it was in April last year on the basis of the unfounded accusations of chemical attacks by the government of Syria, are unacceptable. This was clearly stated by the American representative through diplomatic and military channels ... Despite all the hype raised around Eastern Ghuta, we continue to work to assist the Syrian authorities in withdrawing civilians, providing access to humanitarian convoys, evacuating sick and injured people, which leads to the obvious results".