The quadrilateral summit on Syria, scheduled to be held in Istanbul on Oct. 27 with the participation of Turkish, Russian, German and French leaders, has been raising hopes and expectations that it would address some of the outstanding issues in the war-torn country.
"We should support Turkey's efforts, we had been supporting the Astana process as well," a high-level European Union official told Daily Sabah and added that Turkey is an essential partner in efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria.
Referring to the upcoming summit, the official stressed that "it is certainly never a wasted effort from Turkey."
Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will participate in the summit, hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The event looks to contribute to the efforts for permanent peace after seven years of civil war in Syria.
In relation to the summit, Erdoğan said yesterday that he hopes "this summit would be a serious step leading toward peace in Syria, particularly in Idlib."
The EU official also underscored that the meeting has a broad agenda including the reconstruction of Syria and steps that might be taken for political resolution. He stressed that "the Sochi agreement between Turkey and Russia was significant as it prevented a humanitarian catastrophe." He said that the humanitarian concerns have been eased for now.
Considering the situation on the ground, the high-level EU official said that the EU believes that the time has not come yet for Syrians to turn back unless the humanitarian conditions improved.
Ahead of the Istanbul summit, Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Putin will hold a separate bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Oct. 27 summit, Andrey Buravov, deputy director of the European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
"Another multilateral event with the participation of the presidents of our countries is being prepared in the near future, and a separate bilateral meeting is also planned in this context," he added.
Meanwhile, Russian, Turkish and Iranian deputy foreign ministers Sergey Vershinin, Sedat Önal and Hossein Ansari held talks yesterday on the future of Syria in the Astana format.
Turkey and Russia struck a deal in the Russian town of Sochi on Sept. 17 to ward off a Bashar Assad regime offensive on the last major opposition enclave in Syria and a possible humanitarian catastrophe. The deal set up a demilitarized zone running 15-20 kilometers that were supposed to be evacuated of all heavy weapons and all opposition groups by Monday, Oct. 15. The deal also foresees that opposition groups in northwestern Syria's Idlib will remain in areas where they are already present, while Russia and Turkey will carry out joint patrols in the area.
Referring to the agreement, Serdar Kılıç, Turkish ambassador to Washington, said Monday that it saved the lives of millions of civilians while adding that the international community should step up to find a political solution based on the will of the Syrian people.
Writing in Defense One Magazine, Kılıç noted that the deal, brokered by the Turkish government, has already saved tens of thousands of Syrians by recalling that the Assad regime was on the verge of initiating a bloody attack on Idlib, which is the last stronghold for moderate opposition forces.
"As a result, as many as one million new refugees would have flooded into Turkey and Europe. In addition to pushing Turkey to the limits of its fair share, this would also have led to real security risks" Kılıç said as Turkey currently hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled their devastated country.