Photo: International Meeting on Syrian Settlement. Credit: Kazakh Foreign Ministry. - Photo: 2017

Outcome of Syria Meeting a Feather in Kazakhstan’s Cap

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK | ASTANA (IDN) – UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has commended Russia, Turkey and Iran for their decision to establish a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire in crisis-torn Syria endorsed by the UN Security Council on December 31, 2016.

This is “a concrete step” towards further implementation of Security Council Resolution (SCR) 2236, he said. “The UN stands ready to assist the parties to the trilateral mechanism, develop it, and ensure that it helps strengthen the quality of the ceasefire,” De Mistura added, commenting the two-day ‘International Meeting on Syrian Settlement’ in the Kazakh capital Astana on January 23-24, 2017.

Paying tribute on behalf of Secretary-General UN Antonio Guterres to the hosts of the International Meeting, De Mistura said: “Kazakhstan, under the leadership of President (Nursultan) Nazarbayev, has provided a remarkable contribution to our efforts to push for peace in Syria.”

The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Kairat Abdrakhmanov, welcomed the outcomes of the Astana meting. The negotiations were made possible thanks to the efforts of the guarantor states – Russia, Turkey and Iran, with the participation of the UN and the United States.

“Kazakhstan believes that the agreements reached as part of the Astana Process will give a positive impetus to the political settlement of the Syrian crisis within the framework of the Geneva Process in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015),” the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said.

It added: Astana hopes that the parties of the Syrian conflict shall adhere to their commitments on the ceasefire in Syria in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2336 (2016).

Kazakhstan hosted two rounds of talks between some Syrian opposition groups in Astana in 2015, and provided humanitarian aid to the Syrian people in the amount of 500 tonnes in December 2016.

The Foreign Ministry assured that as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018 Kazakhstan will be applying “maximum efforts to address the issues related to regional and global security, and in this regard, is ready to contribute to the process of settlement of the Syrian crisis”.

De Mistura said: “When we came here to Astana our immediate priority was to ensure the consolidation of the ceasefire. Syrian people are desperate in their need for an end to the ongoing brutal and bloody conflict.”

The ceasefire can additionally help the fight of the international community against terrorism in Syria and the wider region, the UN Special Envoy said.

He added: “I also trust that the emphasis that this Meeting has put on the ceasefire will help create a supportive environment for engagement between the Syrian parties. This is important in order to jumpstart the convening of the formal political negotiating process under UN auspices in Geneva next month. The only way for peace to come to Syria is through a political solution brought about through intra-Syrian negotiations under the aegis the UN.

“We look forward to genuine and constructive engagement by inclusive and empowered delegations on all aspects of a political solution to the Syrian tragedy, in accordance with the sequencing outlined in 2254 – namely governance, constitution and elections. I welcome that the joint statement makes clear that the terms and sequencing of that negotiating process under UN auspices is defined and framed by SCR 2254.”

De Mistura also took note of the reference in the joint statement of upcoming cooperation on the “Astana platform” for specific issues of the political process. He also took note with appreciation of the comments made by the Kazakh Foreign Minister, when he emphasised that SCR 2254 is clear in assigning the primacy of the lead on mediation to the UN.

He welcomed the repeated confirmation of that by all his interlocutors in Astana, particularly the Syrian parties. “I have also heard it very clearly from the sponsors of the conference in Geneva. We will be therefore happy to make good use of the Astana platform when the Geneva mediation process will require it.”

As part of intensified preparations ahead of the February negotiations in Geneva, De Mistura will consult the Secretary-General and brief the Security Council. He warned: “We cannot allow another ceasefire to dissolve because of a lack of a political process. Now is the time for the international community in all its dimensions to come together and support one integrated political negotiating process, as provided for in SCR 2254.”

Addressing participants in the International Meeting, President Nazarbayev stressed the need to “admit that the bloodshed that continues to persist in Syria for approximately 6 years has brought nothing but misery and hardship to the holy region regarded as an intersection of different civilizations and cultures”.

Kazakhstan, as a peace-loving state and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, is interested in strengthening and promoting security and stability in the Middle East, he added.

“It is not a coincidence that our country was selected as the host for today’s negotiations. As you know, two rounds of talks between several opposition groups were held in Astana in 2015,” the Kazakh President said.

In order to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian refugees, Kazakhstan allocated over 700,000 US dollars and recently provided 500 tons of food as humanitarian assistance. [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 January 2017]

Photo: International Meeting on Syrian Settlement. Credit: Kazakh Foreign Ministry.

IDN is flagship of the International Press Syndicate.

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