Turkey, Russia, Iran call for 'viable, Syrian-led' political process in Geneva

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 18.12.2018 18:17
Updated 18.12.2018 21:03
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif shake hands as they attend a news conference after talks on forming a constitutional committee in Syria, at the U.N. in Geneva. (REUTERS Photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif shake hands as they attend a news conference after talks on forming a constitutional committee in Syria, at the U.N. in Geneva. (REUTERS Photo)

Turkey, Russia and Iran called for the launch of a "viable and lasting Syrian-led, Syrian-owned and U.N.-facilitated political process" after talks in Geneva on Tuesday, saying that a new Syrian Constitutional Committee should convene early next year.

"There is no problem regarding the lists of the [Syrian] regime and the opposition for the constitutional commission," Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters following a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers and U.N. Special Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura at the U.N. offices.

He said that guarantor countries of the Astana process and the U.N. are working together on the names that civil society had suggested for the commission.

Çavuşoğlu added that they also discussed the commission's procedural rules, and they are close to a concluding this.

He said the three countries would step up their efforts to see the commission formed "as soon as possible".

"We foresee the first meeting of this commission in the first month of next year," he said.

"Today's meeting is a sign of how important the Astana and Sochi process is for a political solution in Syria and that it has begun to produce concrete results," he said, adding that Turkey will continue contributing to the process as an important actor.

In a joint statement read out by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after the trio met U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, the ministers said that the work of the new body "should be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement".

The ministers also "reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity" of Syria and called on all sides to respect those principles.

De Mistura stayed away from their press event and was to address reporters separately.

Last Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia, Turkey and Iran will present a list of candidates for the commission to the U.N.

During the Syrian peace conference in late January in Sochi, the formation of a committee to develop recommendations to amend the Syrian constitution was agreed upon.

Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members. There is already agreement on the 50-member delegation from the government and the 50-member delegation from the opposition.

The constitutional committee that will discuss the reform process is to be composed of government and opposition representatives, as well as a group of civil society figures selected by the United Nations.

Disagreements about this third group had until now been holding up the process to set up the committee.

Russia and Iran have backed Bashar Assad and his regime during nearly eight years of civil war, while Turkey supports the opposition.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to U.N. officials.

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