World leaders have been holding intensified diplomatic talks to resolve the ongoing Syrian crisis, including talks held in Vienna on Oct. 30 between diplomats from 17 countries, plus the U.N. and the European Union. Following the Vienna talks, a nine-point final declaration was released that emphasized the significance of Syria's unity, independence, territorial integrity and secularity. Diplomatic sources told Daily Sabah that while all 17 countries support Turkey's stance against Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran and Russia are the only countries positioning themselves ahead of Turkey. Additionally, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry following the talks said he had "agreed to disagree" with his Iranian and Russian counterparts on Assad's future.
The Assad regime began a civil war against its people over four years ago, with the regime killing more than 250,000 civilians and has displaced more than 10 million people causing a serious refugee influx to neighboring countries as well as to the European Union. Moscow's stance alongside the Assad regime and its increasing military presence in Syria continue to be an obstacle to enhanced Russian-Turkish bilateral relations. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow for the opening of a mosque in Moscow, where he said that the Assad regime is the main source of instability in the region.
In the latest talks on the Syrian crisis held in Vienna, it has become more apparent that a political transition to bring peace and stability to Syria is unlikely without Assad. Erdoğan later made remarks that a possible political transition could be made with Assad. Following the Nov. 1 elections in which the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) received 49.5 percent of the vote, Putin was the first to congratulate Erdoğan and it has been indicated that Putin has said that Russia is open for dialogue on Assad's future. Commenting on claims of a possible political transition with Assad, diplomatic sources confirmed that Ankara would consider the option in which Assad would stay in his position symbolically for six months or less without any authority and leave his post immediately once the term is over.
It is believed that another meeting will soon be held regarding the Syrian crisis, which may once again be held in Vienna. However, it has further been reported that Putin told Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. special envoy for the Syrian crisis, that he wants the upcoming talks to be held in Moscow. The declaration from the latest Vienna talks also confirmed that ministers will reconvene within two weeks to continue discussions on the remaining areas of disagreement.