Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained the importance of negotiations in Astana for the first time, they were not invited mainly representatives of the political opposition, and members of armed groups. Representatives of more than a dozen armed groups, the Syrian government, countries — guarantors of the armistice (Russia, Turkey and Iran), as well as the special representative of the UN Secretary General on Syria Staffan de Mistura and the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, George Krol, as observers, held talks in the capital of Kazakhstan, for almost three days, behind closed doors, without the presence of the press.
The negotiations have not arrived representatives of the largest armed opposition group “Ahrar al-sham”. Interviewed before the conference, the experts pointed out that this might undermine the negotiating achievements.
The main issues of the discussion, the negotiators called the consolidation of the ceasefire established since December 29 of last year, its spread throughout Syria and monitor the truce. The outcome of the discussion was the adoption of a communiqué, which stated that a military solution to the Syrian conflict, it can be settled exclusively through political dialogue. The document also provides for the establishment of a tripartite monitoring mechanism. However, signed the final document of the guarantor countries — Russia, Iran and Turkey. The opposition and the representatives of the Syrian government to sign it, refused, told Reuters and TASS.
Opposition against Iran
The opposition refused to sign the final document because of the fact that Iran should be part of the mechanism for monitoring and acts as guarantor of the truce, said a source in the opposition told Reuters. According to him, this communiqué legitimizes the role of Iran, which conducts combat operations on the side of the Syrian government in several regions, leading to bloodshed and the violent resettlement of the Syrian people. According to another delegate of the opposition, “the Turkish position was weak in the negotiations and could not defend the interests of the rebels”, his words Agency Reuters.
The government delegation, on the contrary, in negotiating the difficulties accused Turkey. Close to the delegation of the government, the source told the Syrian news Agency SANA that the representatives of Turkey obstructed, offered “unacceptable words” and put “terms outside the context of meetings,” although the main objective of the talks was the establishment of a cease-fire on a regular basis.
The opposition has formulated its own requirements and handed them to the Russian and Turkish sides, said Mohammad Alloush, the head of the delegation of the armed opposition in the negotiations. Among the opposition’s demands for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and militias from Syria, the exclusion of Iran from the list of countries — guarantors of the armistice, the immediate lifting of the blockade cities, the organization of safe corridors to deliver humanitarian aid, the release of prisoners from prison regime. Representatives of the official Damascus refused to accept these proposals, said Alloush.
Summing up the talks, special envoy of the President of Russia Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev said that the Russian delegation handed over to representatives of the armed Syrian opposition to the draft Constitution, which was prepared by Russian specialists. Since the war began in Syria in 2011 this is the first such proposal, although the need for the adoption of the new Constitution was discussed at the talks in Geneva. Details of the Russian proposals Lavrentyev not provided. According to him, the document was prepared “in order to accelerate the process of adoption of the new Constitution of Syria and give it an additional impulse”. Presented the project includes ideas and thoughts that may be useful, they may discuss the Syrian opposition in Moscow, a visit which is scheduled for January 27, said “RIA Novosti” Deputy foreign Minister of Russia Mikhail Bogdanov.
The Syrian armed opposition in General recognized the importance of the political process and the need to start work on the formulation of the basic law, said the Lavrentiev. To adopt a new Constitution can be either by referendum, or in other acceptable form at the will of the Syrian people and ensuring the subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections, he said.
External forces may offer a variety of options models, but the last word should be for the citizens of Syria, said General Director of the Russian international Affairs Council (RIAC) Andrei Kortunov. “Of course, regional powers also have their own interests in Syria, and the final arrangement must take them into account — continues Kortunov. — Finally, any such agreement must comply with a number of the most basic conditions: Syria needs to be secular and unified state with political pluralism.”
A political settlement in Syria, said Fyodor Lukyanov, can be based on several historical examples. For example, the possible introduction of ethno-religious quotas in the image of Lebanon, or, like the Dayton accords on Bosnia, forced federalization under the pressure of external forces. “There is a certain experience which in theory can be studied but the situation in these countries is still quite different, specific stresses Kortunov. In any case, the specific plan yet, although the expert community is ready to submit several projects for further discussion”.
The Constitution of Syria since the beginning of the conflict were varied: 26 February 2012 at the General referendum the majority of Syrians approved a new draft Constitution, according to which the Baath party has lost its dominant role.
The result of the new format
The format of the “Troika” composed of Russia, Turkey and Iran on the Syrian settlement happened in December. By the end of last year the parties managed to achieve a ceasefire and to collect the conference in Astana. However, not all objectives were met. So, on Tuesday, the foreign Ministers of Russia and Turkey Sergei Lavrov and Cavusoglu in a phone conversation stressed the importance of establishing direct contacts between representatives of the Syrian regime and the opposition. However, the opposing parties at the talks in Astana sat at the same table only during the plenary meetings, direct talks between them did not take place.
The only significant breakthrough negotiations in Astana for Russia is that she was able to achieve recognition of the Syrian opposition to the legitimacy of their presence in Syria as the country — guarantor of the truce, said Mahmoud al-Afandi, Secretary of the opposition movement “people’s diplomacy”. Al-Afandi believes that the parties have not moved in the process of peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict, as the provisions of the final communiqué has not made any specifics on how the truce would be observed. According to him, many armed groups, including fighting in the North and refused to participate in negotiations group “Ahrar Al-sham”, will not stick to the agreement reached, which can lead to clashes between them and those groups that had participated in the negotiations in Astana, so Russia and Turkey should protect them.